Splechter, Mayfield Run to Top Kansas Times

Once a year, many of the best cross country runners and teams in a five-state region head down to Joplin, Missouri to battle it out for supremacy.

And more often than not, Kansas' Honor Roll of times gets re-written.

That was certainly the case this year as Yates Center's Hadley Splechter and Manhattan's Clara Mayfield found themselves atop the state's top times list in leading all Kansas runners at the Missouri Southern Stampede.

Splechter won the boys' Green Division in 15:28, taking over the top time by a Kansas runner for the 2018 season. He doesn't have it by much, however. J.P. Rutledge of Baxter Springs was right on his heels, finishing second in 15:31.3 and Manhattan's Daniel Harkin sits at No. 4 in Kansas, finishing fourth at the Southern Stampede in 15:44.6.

All three of those runners also took over the top spot in their respective classes: Splechter in class 2A, Rutledge in 3A and Harkin in 6A. Eight of the top 20 boys' times in Kansas right now were run in the varsity division of the Southern Stampede on Saturday.

Manhattan's Mayfield placed second in 18:25.8 to overtake a fellow Centennial League runner, Washburn Rural's Jaybe Shufelberger, for the top time in Kansas this season. The time was just one second off the time Mayfield ran at the Nike Heartland Regionals last season.

Blue Valley Southwest's Gigi Loffredo ran the third best time in Kansas this season, clocking 19:06 for 11th overall at Joplin. Five of the top seven girls times in Kansas were run at this year's Missouri Southern Stampede, including Blue Valley North's Lily Strauss (19:08), and Mill Valley's Molly Ricker (19:16) and Katie Schwartzkopf (19:18).

Mill Valley and Blue Valley North were the top two Kansas teams in the girls' varsity race. Mill Valley was fourth with 181 points, while Blue Valley North was just one point behind in fifth. Both of those schools are expected to contend for state titles in late October, possibly against each other in class 6A.

Mill Valley was also the top placing team in the boys' division, finishing second with 185 points. Olathe East was third, four points behind Mill Valley.

In other meets this week:

Ezekiel Kemboi of El Dorado fought off a solid field to win the Circle Invitational. Kemboi, a senior, won in 16:47, ahead of Augusta freshman Sawyer Schmidt (17:04) and Andover Central's Monty Christo (17:06).

Andover Central put four boys in the top 9 to beat out Circle for the team.

The Circle girls, the preseason favorite for the class 4A state title this season, won their home meet with 55 points, led by a third place finish from Willour Emma (22:11). Claire Lieb of Trinity Academy was the individual, clocking 20:17 to lead her team to a runner-up finish with 65 points.

St. James Academy staged an exciting team battle in the boys and girls divisions at the Bonner Springs Invitational with cross-border rival Raymore-Peculiar. The Thunder's girls squad put up a 3-4-5 finish from Sara Murrow (19:36), Katie Moore (20:08) and Mary O'Connor (20:12) to key a 33-47 win over Ray-Pec. St. James' Hannah Sullivan also hit the top 10, placing eighth in 20:20.

In the boys' race, Ray-Pec got the better of St. James, scoring 29 points for a 24 point win. John Matulis, second in 16:44), Jack Moore (fourth, 16:54) and Mark Schermerhorn (tenth, 17:28) led St. James.

At the Wichita Southeast Invitational, Matthew Harding of Bishop Carroll clocked 16:33 to win an exciting race against Andover's Asher Moen (16:39) and Wichita North's Iyali Michael (16:40). Wichita East rolled to the boys' team title, winning by more than 20 points over Maize South.

Bishop Carroll freshman Hope Jackson led an onslaught by her team, winning the girls' race in 19:47. Bishop Carroll had five of the top six finishers, including senior Claire Winter (20:01), freshman Abigail Behring (20:35), and sophomores Camille Behring (21:14) and Cameron Paschal (21:15).

Eva McKinzie, a freshman from Wichita East, placed fourth in 20:45 to break up Bishop Carroll's perfect score.

Ethan Thompson of Meade clocked 17:07 to roll to a 57 second victory at the Hugoton Invitational. The race was hoped to be a showdown between Thompson - the class 2A state runner-up a year ago -- and Scott Community's Jack Thomas, the class 3A state champion last year. But Thomas won't run this season, having recently undergone surgery for a labrum tear.

Senior Dulce Ayala (22:04) and freshman Clare Hawkins (22:08) posted a 1-2 finish to lead Scott Community's girls to an easy team win at Hugoton.

Garden City and Dodge City made the Hays Invitational a dual meet, battling for the top individual and team spots in the boys' division. Javier Marquez of Dodge City won the race in 17:07, leading his team to a 10 point win over Garden City, and more than 70 points ahead of third place Norton Community. Garden City's Ethan Fisher led his team with a second place finish in 17:25.

In the girls' race, Lexi Kats of Norton Community beat the field, clocking 20:19. Lara Murdock of Colby was second in 20:35.

THIS WEEK: This is the week in which the official enrollment counts take place at Kansas high schools. The official counts stand to affect the high school cross country scene, as several schools are expected to jump up or down in the state classifications. The count will be taken on Sept. 20, but results may not be known until around Sept. 27, KSHSAA officials say.

Also this week, the prestigious Rim Rock Classic will take place in Lawrence. Teams from seven states and more than 2,000 runners are expected for this year's meet, which begins Friday evening with JV races in several divisions. For more on that meet, visit https://kuathletics.com/sports/2013/7/31/cross_0731133539.aspx?id=274