Shawnee Mission North Girls Win First-Ever State Title

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Shawnee Mission North captured its' school's first-ever state championship in girls' cross country when the squad out-dueled pre-meet favorite Blue Valley North and Olathe North for the 6A crown on Saturday at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence.

Katie Kasunic placed fifth in 18:59.94, ahead of Blue Valley North's top two runners and a key finish as Shawnee Mission North scored 76 points -- just three ahead of Blue Valley North. Olathe North also joined the fun, as the squad placed third with 84 points.

The last time Shawnee Mission North was in this close of a team battle at the state, the squad finished third -- one point out of first place. This time, the tables were turned and Shawnee Mission North won the close battles it needed to win the big gold trophy.

Following Kasunic, Shawnee Mission North's top five included senior Cassie Raines (11th, 19:16.68), sophomore Keagen Stiers (19th, 19:47.60), junior Caroline Colburn (26th, 20:04.00), and senior Molly Ryan (28th, 20:10.61).

Blue Valley North's Sophie Scott led her team with a sixth place finish in 19:10.04. Olathe North had three runners in the top 10, including Zoey Schillinger (seventh, 19:13.14), Claire Fuhlhage (eighth, 19:13.15) and Sarah Whitaker (tenth, 19:16.11).

Blue Valley Northwest freshman Riley Beach and Manhattan's Clara Mayfield, a junior, put on a great show for the individual title. Both runners powered home before Beach clocked 18:25.70 to edge Mayfield, who was second in 18:30.83.

Beach's best time at Rim Rock Farm before Saturday was 20:02 that she ran during the Rim Rock Classic in late September. The freshman emerged in the month of October, putting together an impressive run of Eastern Kansas League, regional and -- now -- state titles.

Mayfield's time was a career best and 37 seconds better than she ran at the Rim Rock Classic in September. She led her team to fourth place in the team standings (109 points).

Blue Valley West was a solid fifth in the team chase, led by Sophie Call in third (18:44.35) and Kalea Chu in fourth (18:57.73).

The boys' team title turned into a great battle between Olathe North and Manhattan, but a 2-3 finish by Olathe North was enough to hold off the Indians. Brian Beach placed second in 15:56.12 while Jackson Caldwell was third in 16:04.62 to key the team win.

It's the second state championship for Olathe North's boys; the first was just two years ago in an upset win over Shawnee Mission North.

Trenton Cochran of Gardner-Edgerton, a junior, placed second at state last year, but he was even better this year. He won the state title in a time of 15:49.94, the first state title in his career.

Cooper Schroeder of Manhattan led his team to the runner-up finish. He placed sixth on Saturday in 16:13.06, and was joined by the top freshman in the state this season -- Daniel Harkin, who was seventh in 16:17.39. Logan Logback (18th) and Matthew Pickering (20th) also brought home individual medals for Manhattan -- the first state medals for either of those runners in their careers.

Defending state champion Olathe East was third in the boys team race this year. Senior Ben Kahnk placed tenth in 16:23.34 to lead the way for that team.

The top four finishers in the boys' 6A race were all junior, incuding fourth-place finisher Logan Jiskra of Shawnee Mission North.