The cross country stage is beginning to set. Athletes from all around Kansas are preparing for some big and competitive meets to take place in the second week of the cross country season. The rankings are likely to shift around greatly in the next few weeks,as many runners have yet to even toe the starting line for a race this season, with a few meets being rescheduled/cancelled and teams having an off week this first week.
To start off the list of exciting meets happening this week, we have the Wamego Invitational, a meet that attracts many teams as a great way to preview the 1A/2A/4A state course and prepare for the state meet come the end of October.
Scott Community senior Jack Thomas paved the way on the boys' side this past year, winning the 4A boys race in an outstanding time of 16:05.30, crossing the line 50 seconds before any other runner in the 4A boys race or the 1A/2A/3A race. Although he is a senior this year, we are unsure if we will see Thomas back on the cross country course after we did not see him during the track season, presumably because of an injury. If Thomas is not well enough to compete, Chapman senior Aaron Modrow is one to look out for in the race, finishing second in the race last year, as well as Circle junior Eli Jacobson who finished fifth in the race last year. On the 1A/2A/3A boys' race side, It looks like it could be a battle between Bishop Seabury junior Henry Nelson (second last year) and Riley County senior Brett Kulp (third last year) for the gold. Towanda-Circle is likely going to be the team to beat on the boys' side, with a very strong and healthy boys' team returning.
For the girls' side in the 4A race, it seems to be a very one-sided race to Baldwin, returning a whopping seven runners from their 2017 4A state champion team (yes, that is the whole varsity squad we are talking!), beating out Scott Community by 40 points. Chapman runner Taylor Briggs won the race last year, and is returning for just her second year. Although the sophmore may have won with over a 40 second gap last season, that is not to say the other runners are going to let her have the victory easy. Baldwin runner Ambrynn Stewart and teammate Natalie Beiter could be right on her tail. The 1A/2A/3A girls race, on the other hand, appears to be pretty open to grab. with Bennington senior Halle Johnson graduated(winner of the race last year), it opens the race for others to take. 18 of the top 20 finishers in the race return this year for the 2019 cross country season, so it should be a nice race to see unfold.
But all the action isn't just happening in Wamego, there is more to go around the state. The Burlington Classic was originally set to take place on this previous Thursday, but due to a large amount of rain, it was moved to this Tuesday. On the boys' side, the meet will give us a good look at now senior Hadley Splechter out of Yates Center. Splechter won the race last year with a time of 16:14.98, and has six individual state titles in both track and cross country. He is the overwhelming favorite to win the boys' race, finishing almost two minutes before any other returning runner in last years' race. Team wise, the meet should give us a good look at 2017 3A state runner-up Central Heights. On the girls' side, senior Molly Rossman of West Franklin won the race last year with a nice gap, but Fredonia senior Jordan Smith and West Franklin teammates Bailey Leach and Maddie Montgomery could pose a threat to an easy win for Rossman. The race will also give us a nice preview of what we can expect from a rising West Franklin girls' team.
More featured meets:
The second Olathe East Twilight Invitational is happening this week! This meet brings in many top teams around the Olathe area and gives them a nice spin on the usual race - running at a completely different time of day. Expect to see nothing less than fast times coming out of this meet.
The Hesston Invitational this Thursday is an exciting meet to see. The meet has different divisions for freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, as well as 1A/2A/3A and 4A/5A/6A. It gives a nice look at the growth of different runners compared to their own grade/class over the years.
There's a lot of action going around Kansas cross country, so be sure not to miss out!
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