Week Five Ready to Kick Off Amid Impending Announcements

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A couple of potential off-the-course announcements promise to make this an interesting week on the Kansas cross country scene.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association is expected to announce classification changes for the current school year, based on member schools' enrollment count on September 20.

 

It's a big deal in Kansas. Last year, Maize South was moved from class 5A to 4A and immediately became an overwhelming favorite to win the 4A state championship. The Mavericks won handily on the girls' side, while the boys completed the state title sweep by a slightly smaller margin.

 

Maize South was one student short of remaining in class 5A last year, where they would have had to take on the likes of powerful St. Thomas Aquinas, Mill Valley and St. James Academy.

 

Hugoton swept the class 3A state titles last year after being moved from class 4A in early October.

 

There will certainly be changes again this year, whether it's Maize South being moved back to 5A, or something else. And like last year, it could completely change the landscape of one or more of the six divisions in Kansas cross country.

 

Classification changes not only affect the team titles, but could also set up some interesting individual races at the state meet.

 

Stay posted on that one.

 

The other potential off-course news this week will be KSHSAA's announcement of the sites for regional cross country meets on October 21. Along with sites, KSHSAA announces which teams will battle at each regional for the coveted trips to the state meet.

 

As for this week's meets:

 

Kansas City Cross Country Classic

 

It seems almost anti-climactic to hold a meet the week after the Rim Rock Classic, but there's a pretty darn good one that will take place in the Kansas City area.

 

The Kansas City Cross Country Classic will be held on Saturday, hosted by Raymore-Peculiar High School. For years, the meet was called the KC Metro Championships, but the name changed last year as more teams from outside the Kansas City area asked to join in the fun.

 

It's held on the Missouri side of the river, but about half the 28 teams expected are from Kansas. They include class 5A defending state champion St. Thomas Aquinas, which placed second in the boys' race (they were beaten by a California team) and first on the girls side last year.

 

Other Kansas schools slated to compete include Blue Valley, Blue Valley North, Blue Valley Northwest, Blue Valley West, Mill Valley, Olathe North, Olathe Northwest, Olathe South, Shawnee Mission South, Spring Hill and Turner.

 

Mill Valley's girls placed fourth at the Rim Rock Classic last weekend, a couple spots in front of Blue Valley North. Those two teams may be the pre-meet favorites for the girls' team title, but they'll have to fend off Raymore-Peculiar, which was seventh at Rim Rock.

 

Rockhurst's boys, second at Rim Rock, get the pre-meet nod over St. Thomas Aquinas.

 

Blue Valley West's Sophie Call and St. Thomas Aquinas' Olivia Sovereign have a shot at the individual title, but they'll face a tough challenge from Raymore-Peculiar's Makenzie Stucker and Miranda Dick, who placed second and fourth, respectively, at the Rim Rock Classic.

 

St. Thomas Aquinas' Ethan Marshall and Rockhurst's Tom Seitzer and Peter Campbell should battle it out on the boys' side.

 

Baldwin Invitational

 

This meet won't have the same drama it did a year ago when Girard's Cailie Logue clocked 16:45.75 to beat Shawnee Mission Northwest's Molly Born (17:10.40), but it still has plenty of firepower.

 

St. James Academy, which won the Girls Gold Varsity race at the Rim Rock Classic last weekend, is the team to beat, though they should get a good tussle from Shawnee Mission North and possibly Shawnee Mission Northwest.

 

The home team is pretty darn good, too. Baldwin's girls have emerged as a top contender this season for the class 4A state title. They were 22nd in the Girls Gold division at Rim Rock, running against many of the best 5A and 6A schools in Kansas and Missouri.

 

Look for an exciting girls' race between Sara Murrow of St. James Academy, Katie Kasunic of Shawnee Mission North, and Lindsey Rowatt of Shawnee Mission West.

 

You may get a chance to see two of the state's best male runners at Baldwin. Dylan Miller of Blue Valley Southwest has run 15:58 this season, and was the top Kansas finisher at the Rim Rock Classic. He will face off against Bishop Carroll's Matthew Harding, a tough junior who has clocked 16:32 this season.

 

Great Bend Now at Full Strength?

 

With senior Kerby Depenbusch now back on the course, Great Bend's boys may be at full strength and ready for an October surge. Depenbusch suffered a stress fracture this summer, but made his 2017 season debut with a win in the Boys Crimson race at Rim Rock last weekend.

 

His teammate, sophomore Connor Griffith, finished second in that same race, keying the Panthers' team win in the Crimson race. At the Junction City Invitational on Saturday, they'll match up against Manhattan, a team that was a preseason favorite in class 6A but has struggled to maintain the pack times it was posting at this same time last year.

 

Those two teams will battle it out and we could find out a bit more on how serious their state trophy hopes are for this season.

 

Manhattan's Cooper Schroeder has the state's best time among boys, clocking 15:38.56 at the Missouri Southern Stampede two weekends ago. He and Depenbusch are quite familiar with each other, having gone head-to-head several times the past three years.

 

Clara Mayfield of Manhattan, who has a season-best of 18:54.50, has the top time among girls heading to Junction City this weekend. Michelle Sanchez of Junction City, who was third in the Girls Crimson race at Rim Rock, has run 19:26.10 this season.

 

Manhattan and Maize are likely to duke it out for the girls team title.

 

Around the state..and beyond!

 

The Newton Invitational features 14 teams, many coming from well outside the Wichita area, among them Washburn Rural (Topeka), Dodge City, Liberal and Wamego.

 

The Cowboy Jamboree will take place in Stillwater, Okla., hosted by Oklahoma State University. A few Kansas schools usually attend; last year, Clearwater freshman Aimee Davis won the girls' race, en route to a second place finish at the class 4A state meet.


Davis has been hampered by injury, though she made her season debut with a win at the Oxford Invitational last Thursday. This year's Jamboree will be a chance to see if Davis is back to form again.

 

The Seaman Invitational will feature a handful of Topeka and Kansas City-area schools. Olathe East, which did not run at Rim Rock last week, is the defending champs in both the boys and girls races.

 

The Pratt Invitational should feature the class 3A boys state champion, Owen Pearce of Kingman. Pearce, a junior, could get a race from Brandon Clark of Chaparral.


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