Ks Runners Get Last Tuneup for Championship Season

There may have been a few Kansas cross country coaches who were a little indifferent about the untimely rains and storms that hit many parts of the state this weekend.

Frankly, the sixth week of the cross country season tends to be a time to pull back the reins - not necessarily the rains - prior to the three-week stretch of league, regionals and state meets.

Coaches often stew about whether to completely sit their top runners, or go for a lower-intensity meet. If you had to have a meet cancelled sometime during the year, this was the best week for it.

For Topeka schools, however, championship season kicked off this week. Despite a soggy course at Shawnee North Community Park, Washburn Rural's Jaybe Shufelberger and Caleb Wright won the individual titles and cross country bragging rights in the Capital City.

Shufelberger, who is the only Kansas girl to dip under 18:00 for 5K this season, won the Topeka City Championship by more than two minutes, clocking 18:42. It was the senior's third straight City championship.

But Shawnee Heights' girls put four runners in the top 10 - led by second place finisher Kylie Phillips (20:45.5) - to highlight a two-point victory over host Seaman. Shawnee Heights, which had 39 points, also got top 10 finishes from Alisiara Hobbs (fourth, 21:20.9), Jennifer Albrecht (eighth, 21:36.3) and Adrienne Johnson (ninth, 21:37.2).

Erin Hebert of Seaman was third (21:03.9) to lead her squad. Teammate Suzanna Mosqueda placed fifth (21:23.1) as part of a 51 second pack time for the Lady Vikings.

Washburn Rural's boys were a bit more convincing in winning the City title, scoring 25 points to Seaman's 42. Wright and teammate Rylan Brown ran together for much of the race, then pulled away late to finish 1-2 in times of 16:45.1 and 16:55.8.

Washburn Rural had 10 runners in the top 15 to highlight the dominating performance. Seaman's Maliki Pope placed third (17:01.2) and Taegan Loy was fifth (17:19.1) to lead their team's runner-up finish.

In other meets this week:

Mill Valley's Jack Terry posted an impressive win in 16:15.0, out-running two-time class 6A state champion Trent Cochran of Gardner-Edgerton, who finished in 16:26.3. Mill Valley's boys had six of the top eight finishers, winning the meet easily with 20 points.

It was also an easy win for Mill Valley's girls, who scored 19 points to beat Blue Valley and Blue Valley West - who tied for second with 66 points (Blue Valley won the tiebreaker). Freshman Katie Schwartzkopf continues to lead the Jaguars, winning the meet in 19:09.2. Mill Valley had five of the top 7 in the race.

Ezekiel Kemboi of El Dorado fought off Michael Lyalli of Wichita North to win his home meet in 16:28.27. Lyalli was second in 16:37.48 while Emporia's Treyson True was not far behind in 16:50.86. El Dorado won the boys' team title with 70 points to Emporia's 77.

Freshman Hope Jackson of Bishop Carroll continues to impress, winning the El Dorado Invitational in a time of 19:04.62. It is Jackson's third win of the season. Senior teammate Claire Winter was second in 19:56.47 as Carroll scored 25 points and rolled to a 73-point win.

Keetan Munsell of Salina South out-kicked Austin Fullerton of Eisenhower to win the Salina Central Invitational on Saturday. Munsell's time was 16:38.4 while Fullerton was right on his heels at 16:42.1. Javier Marquez of Dodge City clocked 16:55.9 for third, leading his squad to the team title.

Kennedy Nicholson of Eisenhower won the girls' title at Salina Central in a time of 20:12, leading five Eisenhower runners in the top 8. Kadyn Cobb of Salina Central placed second in 20:26.6.

In an exciting race at the Pleasanton Invitational, Yates Center's Hadley Splechter - whose 15:18 two weeks ago is the fastest time among Kansas boys this year -- got a pretty good challenge from Girard's Cormick Logue, a sophomore who is quickly rising up the ranks of Kansas cross country. Splechter won the race in 15:56, but Logue was not far behind in a career-best time of 16:04.

Lily Meyer of Central Heights won the girls' race at Pleasanton with a time of 19:42.7.

Other meet winners this week include:

Burrton Invitational - Collin Oswalt, Central Christian, 16:12; Parker Schroeder, Halstead, 21:33.

Cimarron Invitational - Justin Burman, Cimarron, 17:17.9; Paige Harris, Ashland, 19:54.5.

Louisburg Invitational - Braxton Dixon, Spring Hill, 17:32.0; Darian Hudgeons, Paola, 19:42.

Osage City Invitational - Gabe TenEyck, Silver Lake, 17:12.8; Rayna Jasper, Anderson County, 20:30.6.

Sabetha Invitational - Jacob Bailey, Baldwin, 17:25.5; Adalynn Collins, Atchison, 20:08.3.

Sterling Invitational - Tanner Lindahl, Buhler, 16:32.7; Mayra Ramirez, Great Bend, 19:13.8.