Beloit Duo Posts 1-2 Finish in Class 3A State Meet

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Sophomore twin sisters Hannah Burks and Hayley Burks of Beloit raced each other to the finish line of the Kansas class 3A girls cross country championships Saturday at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence.

Hannah Burks, one of the pre-meet favorites for the overall title, beat her sister by nearly a minute, but it didn't matter. The 1-2 finish was nonetheless impressive. Hannah won in 19:10.29, while Hayley was the runner-up in 20:07.72.

For Hannah Burks, it was the first individual state title in her young high school career. She had previously placed second in the 3200 meter run on the track, and third at the cross country championships last year.

Caroline Giles of Minneapolis, a junior, was third in 20:26.35, out-sprinting Lexi Kats of Norton (20:27.90) and Makaela Stevens of Scott Community (20:29.06) in the top 5.

Another pre-meet favorite, Elizabeth Kettler of Hiawatha, didn't quite have the individual race she was hoping for, but she led her team to the school's first-ever team title. Kettler, the runner-up at this meet last year and two-time 3200 meter state champion, placed tenth on Saturday in 20:48.47.

It was plenty good enough for her team. Hiawatha scored 67 points to get past Scott Community, which had 76. Thomas More Prep had 98 points, just beating out Beloit (109) for the last spot on the podium.

Jack Thomas of Scott Community completed an unbeaten junior campaign, winning the class 3A boys state title against a pretty strong field. Eight runners ran 17:00 or better on the tough Rim Rock course.

But none in class 3A did it better than Thomas, who posted a season-best of 16:04.87 to win over Teagan Flanagan of Kingman (16:16.45) and Brett Kulp of Riley County (16:26.20).

Defending class 3A champion Robert 'Owen' Pearce of Kingman was fourth in 16:30.82. Justin Hodge of Hiawatha rounded out the top five in 16:39.42.

For Scott Community's Thomas, it was the second state title of his career -- he also won the class 3A 3200 meter run in 2016. Saturday's win made him a perfect 9-for-9 for the 2017 cross country season.

Halstead's boys emerged from a razor-close chase for the 3A team title. Halstead scored 102 to edge Central Heights, which had 104. Scott Community was also in the mix, scoring 113 for third place.

The boys' team title came down to the fifth runner for each team. Halstead's fifth runner -- freshman Hayden Davis -- placed 42nd overall, while Central Height's fifth was another 10 spots back.

Halstead won by putting together a solid pack. Junior Andrew O'Brien was 13th overall in 17:12.63, but the 1-5 pack time for the squad was 54 seconds. It was just enough to bring the big gold trophy back to Scott City.