Splechter, Yates Center win 2A State Titles

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Yates Center's Hadley Splechter set the tone and his teammates followed as both wrote a glorious chapter in their school's history Saturday at the class 2A state cross championships at the Wamego Cross Country Club

Splechter became the first state cross country champion ever from Yates Center, winning in 16:05.1. His teammates then one-upped him as they plowed toward the finish and the school's first-ever team championship.

The storyline coming in was whether Yates Center could get its fourth and fifth runners to the finish line in time to hold off a very good Bennington boys team.

As it turned out, they could. Freshman Austin Moffet was 33rd and senior Kobe Forsyth was 47th to give Yates Center a team score of 61. Pre-meet favorite Bennington, which got a tenth-place finish from Keelan Aita (17:52.9) and 16th from Caleb Koehn (18:09.1), placed second in the team standings with 76 points.

Yates Center also got a sixth-place finish from Colin Bedell (17:28.1) and seventh place finish from Jordan Smith (17:38.1).

Stanton County fought off Kansas City Christian for third place in the team standings.

Ethan Thompson of Meade gave Splechter a tough fight for most of Saturday's race, but settled for second place in 16:18.8. Cooper Mumford of Kansas City Christian was third in 16:57.9.

Bennington's girls had no problem in winning the fourth state title for the school's girls' program. Senior Halle Johnson, who will run for Wichita State University next year, capped a remarkable senior campaign when she won the state title in 19:14.1.

Bennington had five girls in the top 10, scoring 24 points for a 97-point victory over second place Ellinwood, which had 121. Berean Academy was just another point behind, 122 points, for third place.

Bennington's dominance was evident. After Johnson, those in the top 5 for the squad were freshman Peyton Piepho (fourth, 20:23.7), sophomore Chloe Stanley (sixth, 20:38.5), senior Karis Hilbert (seventh, 20:43.6), and junior Kya Johnson (tenth, 20:56.9).

Halle Johnson won eight of the nine races she ran this season, including an impressive win in the Rim Rock Classic Blue Division in late September. She also beat class 1A state champion Autumn Princ twice in three tries earlier this season, and had the top 5K time among Kansas girls (18:11).

Johnson's win gives her essentially the quadruple crown of Kansas middle distance and distance running. She has now won state titles in the 800, 1600, 3200 and cross country.