Kansas X-C Charges Forward on Soggy Weekend

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Mother Nature tried to put a damper on the Kansas cross country scene, and while she was moderately successful, the state's runners charged on in the last week before championship season gets in full gear.

At least two meets -- the Salina Central Invitational on Saturday and the Lincoln Invitational on Thursday -- were cancelled due to soggy late-week conditions and an ominous weekend forecast.

Neither of those slowed Seaman's Maliki Pope and Washburn Rural's Jaybe Shufelberger, who won Topeka City titles Saturday at the speedy Felker Park course.Pope outdueled Shawnee Heights senior Hunter Henderson to win the boys' race in 16:50.1. Pope placed 14th in this same meet a year ago, a nice year-to-year improvement for the junior runner. Henderson, a state champion in the 1600 meters in 2016, clocked 17:06 on Saturday.

Shufelberger, a junior, successfully defended her City title with a time of 19:55.9, leading a 1-2-3 finish by Washburn Rural runners. Senior Amanda Miller placed second in 20:15 and sophomore Christina Funk finished in 20:52.

Washburn Rural swept the team titles. For the boys, it was the eleventh straight year that the Blues won the Topeka City championship. They'll now hope to maintain the momentum when they host the Centennial League championships next Saturday.

At least two other league titles were decided last week.

The Hoxie Invitational also served as the Northwest Kansas League Championships. Trevor Fischer of Wallace County won the boys' title in 17:45, leading his team to the league title over Greeley County.

Robyn Selzer made it a sweep for Wallace County, as she won the girls' title in 21:02.

The individual titles became a family affair at the Mid-Continent League Championships, which were held in conjunction with the Phillipsburg Invitational. Bernard Giefer of Trego Community won the boys' individual title, breaking away from three Norton Community runners to win in 18:28. His sister, Helen Giefer, won a little more comfortably, crossing the line in 20:18 for a 39 second win over Lexi Kats of Norton Community

Sybil Giefer of Trego was third in the girls' race. Norton Community swept the MCL team titles.

Around the state…

In other action this week, there were a number of dig-down-to-your-toenails finishes that highlighted some individual battles.

At the Mill Valley Cat Classic, Greg Haynes of Mill Valley outdueled Gardner-Edgerton's Trent Cochran -- the state runner-up in class 6A last year. Haynes was clocked in 15:40 while Cochran was just a few steps behind in 15:46. Jack Terry of Mill Valley was third in 15:55 and Sam Hubert of DeSoto fourth in 15:57.

The girls' race was even closer. Morgan Koca of Mill Valley edged teammate Britton Nelson, winning in 19:00. Nelson was just three seconds behind as Mill Valley put together a 49 second pack time and took five of the top six places.

Brandon Clark of Chaparral won the Cheney Invitational in 17:27, outkicking Zach Hole of The Independent School, who was second in 17:34.

Teammates John Reece and Tim Smith of Louisburg finished with identical times of 17:27 at their home meet, with Reece given the razor-thin victory over Smith. Travis Lutz of Ottawa was third in 17:36.

Two of the state's better runners the past couple years squared off at the Osage City Invitational. Averi Wilson of Anderson County pulled away to win in 19:58, while Hannah Honeyman of Santa Fe Trail was second in 20:13. Paige McDaniel of Wellsville was third in 20:37.

Also at Osage City, Dallin Bailey of West Franklin put up a workmanlike win in 17:13, while upstart Gabe TenEyck of Silver Lake was second in 17:38.

Elizabeth Kettler of Hiawatha, runner-up in class 3A state cross country last year, also was solid in winning the Sabetha Invitational in 20:41. Ambrynn Stewart of Baldwin was second in 21:06, leading four teammates in the top 6.

Rand Lohrentz of Buhler broke away from a pack of seven to win the Sterling Invitational in a time of 17:23. The top five runners in that race were within 10 seconds, including Raul Orozco (17:29) and Nate Kolm (17:31) of Pratt, Aj Miller of St. John-Hudson (17:32) and Nicholas Martisko of Inman (17:33).

Erin Topham of Berean Academy won the girls' race at Sterling, clocking 19:46. Hannah Nuest of Buhler put up a good fight, placing second in 20:03.

One of the state's brightest newcomers pulled off a nice win at the Carl Owczarzak Invitational. Freshman Riley Beach of Blue Valley Northwest won in 19:17 to beat Blue Valley North's Sophie Scott (19:48) and Lily Strauss (19:52). Scott was the 800 meter champion on the track last spring and has the state's second fastest 5000 meter time this Fall. Strauss was fourth at the class 6A state championships a year ago.

Henry Nelson of Bishop Seabury held off Griffin Keeter of Shawnee Mission East to win the Haskell University Invitational. Nelson, who has the No. 2 time in class 2A this season, won in 16:44 for a five second win over Keeter.

Julia Larkin of Lawrence Free State ran a season best time of 20:34 to pick up her first-ever high school win. Gracyn Carnean of Olathe East was eight seconds back in 20:42.