Mill Valley freshman Katie Schwartzkopf emerged from a star-studded field in the Kansas class 6A girls state championship, surging in the last half mile to win the individual title at Rim Rock Farm on Saturday.
Schwartzkopf managed to maintain her strength on a hot day when several of the pre-meet contenders were slowed by the conditions. Washburn Rural's Jaybe Shufelberger, who was undefeated on the season and had the state's best 5K time of 17:59.8 this season, rallied to finish second but at one point had dropped to fourth as the early-afternoon temperatures took their toll.
Last year's state champion, Riley Beach of Blue Valley Northwest, was in second place with 700 meters to go, but she seemed to suffer from dehydration across the Jim Ryun Skyline. She eventually finished 13th.
But Schwartzkopf kept rolling. She ran from the front and was in second place behind Manhattan's Clara Mayfield at 2 miles. Schwartzkopf grabbed the lead just before King's Bridge - about 1000 meters from the finish - and was the first on the Jim Ryun skyline.
The heat seemed to start getting to Mayfield, and she was not able to match Schwartzkopf's kick in the last 600 meters. Shufelberger managed to catch her Centennial League counterpart, and Mayfield fought her way to third.
Schwartzkopf's winning time was a season- and career-best 18:19.5. Shufelberger was second in 18:42.3 and Mayfield was clocked in 18:52.
Schwartzkopf is the first-ever individual state champion from Mill Valley, and she also led her team to its first-ever team title. Mill Valley rolled to the class 6A state title with 41 points while Blue Valley West was second with 57. Manhattan fought off the rest of the field to nab third place, scoring 105.
Mill Valley had five runners in the top 20. In addition to Schwartzkopf, Delaney Kemp was fourth (19:05), Molly Ricker was 11th (19:36), Morgan Koca was 15th (19:53) and Josie Taylor was 19th (20:06).
Harkin drew first blood, putting up a five meter lead on Molina as the two sped by the Jim Ryun statue. But as the two made the right turn downhill toward the finish, Molina found an extra gear and had reversed the lead on Harkin.
"I knew he was a fierce competitor and I knew he could close a race well," Molina said of Harkin. "The only thing going through my mind was to stay relaxed and focus on the close of the race."
Molina was greeted with a raucous celebration by family and friends just past the finish area.
"I feel really good; I'm hungry though," Molina joked, saying he might go for some Nutella.
More seriously, he added: "There's a lot of pressure coming into this meet, a lot of people telling you you've got to represent us well. I did my best to smile, think of happy songs. My family was here to calm me down."
Olathe North successfully defended the boys' class 6A title, scoring 51 points for a comfortable win against a surprising Lawrence Free State team, which had 98. Olathe East scored 104 for third and Mill Valley was fourth with 109.
Class 6A defending champion Trenton Cochran of Gardner-Edgerton ran a solid race, putting himself in position with the lead pack through nearly two miles. But he couldn't maintain the pace and eventually finished seventh in a time of 16:11.