Two of Kansas' youngest cross country stars took a huge step toward state history on Saturday at the class 4A cross country championships in Wamego.
Chapman's Taylor Briggs continued her domination of the 4A ranks, improving her record at the state level to 4-0 with a win in the girls' race. Her time of 18:57.6 was 56 seconds better than runner-up Fallon Russell of Bishop Miege, who finished in 19:53.8. Riley Heibert of Eudora was third in 20:03.9.
Briggs is now a two-time state cross country champion - halfway to becoming just the sixth four-time champ in state history. She also won the 1600 and 3200 on the track last spring.
She is dominating in a division that Girard's Cailie Logue owned for four years prior. Logue completed her four-peat of class 4A cross country titles in 2016, just in time for Briggs to set off on a new quest. Before Logue, nobody had ever won four consecutive state titles in class 4A.
But even Logue - who won the Big XII title on Friday and now leads one of the nation's top teams at Iowa State -- did not win two track titles as a freshman, so what Briggs is doing right now is pretty special.
Lindahl's win was not necessarily a surprise, but it wasn't expected, either. Chapman's Aaron Modrow entered as the pre-meet favorite based on his season-best time of 15:58.9 - making him the only class 4A runner to have run under 16:00 this season.
Modrow, a senior who could have been the first-ever boys' cross country champion from Chapman, settled for third with a time of 17:01.9.
No Kansas boy has ever won four state cross country titles. Seven Kansas runners have won three state titles, but among those, only Riley County's Ben Sigle had won as a freshman (an injury as a sophomore prevented him from winning that year, which was the only blemish at state during his high school career). Winning as a freshman puts Lindahl in a position to do what no Kansas boy has ever done.
Of course, that's for future years. For now, he can enjoy being a state champ for the first time, which came with another bonus: His Buhler team also took home the boys' state championship.
Buhler scored 47 points to beat defending class 4A champion Circle, which had 81. Tonganoxie put together a 48 second pack time to key a third place finish, with 89 points. It's the first-ever state cross country championship for Buhler.
Rand Lohrentz of Buhler was sixth in 17:12.7, and Cordell Hendrickson was 13th (17:27.5) to key the state title. Emmet Keller of Circle placed 16th (17:42.7) to lead his team. Tonganoxie was led by Calvin Morgan (14th, 17:31.2).
Baldwin's girls proved once again to be the best of the bunch in class 4A girls. The squad successfully defended their state title, scoring 51 points for a 30 point win over Eudora. Buhler was third at 107.
For the powerful Baldwin girls' program, it's also the 11th state championship since 2002, a run that included a string of five titles from 2007 through 2011. The boys' program has 13 state championships.
On Saturday, Baldwin's girls posted a 53 second pack time, led by freshman Jana Landreth in ninth (20:30.0) and sophomore Ambrynn Stewart in 11th (20:52.6). Baldwin had three other individual state medalists, including freshman Riley Smith (21:16.9), senior Natalie Beiter (21:20.0), and freshman Abigail Patterson (21:23.5).
In other words, Baldwin returns at least four medalists next year. The program has dominated on the state scene for two decades, and seems pretty well set for a few years to come.