Scott Community's girls finally got over the hump, turning a second place finish at last year's class 3A state championships into their school's first-ever state championship in girls' cross country on Saturday at Rim Rock Farm.
And Scott Community did it convincingly. After a narrow defeat a year ago, they put the hammer down for a 30-point win over Thomas More Prep. Scott Community had 59 points, while TMP scored 89 and Clay Center nabbed third place at 106. Upstart Rock Creek, which didn't have a single girl compete at last year's state meet, finished fourth with 108.
Freshman Clare Hawkins of Scott Community led her team with a sixth place finish in 20:32.1. However, she was the first runner across the line from a scoring team, so Scott Community's team score for Hawkin's finish was a '1'.
In the 3A individual race, an over-joyed Lexi Kats of Norton Community was swarmed by friends and family after she came from behind in the last half mile to win the individual title in 19:26.6. Kats is now the first-ever individual state cross country champion from Norton.
Kats was in third place heading into King's Bridge, but she quickly drew closer to defending state champion Hannah Burks of Beloit and Lara Murdock of Colby. With a quarter mile to go, the game was on and Kats proved to have just a little more game than the other two.
She roared around the final downhill turn and put on the after-burners. She turned a shoulder-to-shoulder battle into a 30 meter win, the first state cross country title for the junior.
"I couldn't have done it without my team pushing me at practice," Kats said. "My coach told me I could do this. (Down the home stretch) I was worried that someone was coming up behind me, that's all I was thinking about. When I crossed the finish line I saw my team and family and all those that came out to support me."
Murdock surged late to place second in 19:30.3, and Burks was third in 19:44.8.
Galena's Matthew Oglesby avenged losses to Riverton's Jp Rutledge at the league and regional meets the past two weeks, winning the class 3A boys state title on Saturday in a time of 15:59.5. Like his counterpart in the girls' 3A race, he becomes the first-ever individual state champion from his school.
Some might have seen it as an upset - Rutledge had previously run 15:28 at Rim Rock for the second best time this season among Kansas runners - but Oglesby was confident he could win on Saturday.
"JP and I go back and forth on races, so I wouldn't call it an upset. I just had the upperhand today," Oglesby said. "This was my last race so I just wanted to put it all out there on the course. And I was able to do that."
Asked about his emotions, Oglesby quipped: "I want to cry right now but I'm not going to do it on camera."
"All glory to God, that's all I've got to say."
Rutledge was the state runner-up in a time of 16:10, while
Kingman's Teagan Flanagan ran a gutsy race and finished third in 16:17. Girard's Cormick Logue, who was third to Rutledge and Oglesby at league and regionals, placed fourth on Saturday.
Southeast of Saline emerged from a very tight field of contenders and won the class 3A boys team title with 83 points. Hugoton was second with 118 while Smoky Valley was third at 123 and Halstead was fourth with 124.
It's the sixth state championship for the boys' team at Southeast of Saline.The school also has seven girls' state championships.
Luke Gleason, a sophomore, led Southeast of Saline with a 12th place finish in 17:11, and freshman Dylan Sprecker was 18th in 17:28. The squad's top four finishers were either freshmen or sophomores, so this could be the makings of run of state titles for Southeast of Saline.