It's the best time run by a Kansas athlete this season. He out-dueled Har-Ber (Arkansas) High School's Reuben Reina, who crossed in 15:13.90. Reina is a runner with good bloodlines; he's the son of the 1992 U.S. Olympian by the same name who was also an NCAA champion at the University of Arkansas.
Harkin won the class 6A 3200 meter state title last spring, and was the runner-up in cross country a year ago. He entered the season as the odds-on favorite to win the class 6A individual title this season, and has since done nothing to indicate he's anything but that. He's won three races in three outings so far this season.
The Stampede is known for giving up fast times, with a course that is mostly flat and competition that is very good. Seven of the top 10 times by Kansas runners this past week were run at the Stampede, including Ty Brechler of Blue Valley West (16:10); Ryan Schmideskamp (16:20.3) and Carter Stewart (16:20.6) of Olathe East; Collin Oswalt of Hutchinson-Central Christian (16:29.3); and Luke Wichman of Manhattan (16:29.5).
Manhattan finished seventh in the team standings to lead Kansas Schools. Blue Valley West was ninth and Olathe East was tenth.
On the girls' side, Bella Call of Blue Valley West also posted a career best, finishing fourth overall in 18:46.9, while teammate Katherine Soule was seventh in 18:59.4. Amelia Knopp of Manhattan was the next fastest Kansan, clocking 19:28.2 for 17th.
Blue Valley West was the top Kansas team on the girls' side, finishing fifth, while Manhattan was seventh and Olathe East was 13th.
Throwdown in Baldwin. Meanwhile, there were some pretty intriguing team battles going on in Baldwin City.
Ben Shryock of Lawrence Free State won the race in 16:18.05, and teammate Charles Johnson was third (16:29.3). But Mill Valley put together a 45 second pack time (about 25 seconds better than Free State) to rally for the win. Darius Hightower led Mill Valley, placing second in 16:27.35.
In the girls' race, Olathe West freshman Aubree Blackman continues to impress, running to victory in 18:56.35. She beat a good field, led by Mill Valley's Morgan Koca (19:03.3) and Katie Schwartzkopf (19:19.5) and another Olathe West freshman, Charis Robinson (19:41.8).
Olathe West is stacking up a pretty strong class of freshman. Paige Baker was eighth in 20:22.03. But Mill Valley held off the feisty Olathe West squad, scoring 31 points for an eight-point victory.
More Fab Freshman. We're seeing several other freshman girls who are making an early mark in Kansas cross country this season. Jocelyn Sosa of Garden City won the Hays Invitational on Thursday (20:43.6), while Hayley Trotter of Clearwater won the Circle Invitational (21:08.8).
At the Hugoton Invitational, a pair of Stanton County frosh - Chesney Peterson (20:25.9) and Suzanne Farnham (20:44.8) - posted a 1-2 finish. Stanton County, however, dropped a two-point decision to a team from Gruver, Tex.
Pack Attack. Washburn Rural's girls don't seem to have a front-runner this season, but boy can they pack it in. The squad won the Bonner Springs Invitational on Saturday with a 56 second pack time, led by Heidi Schieber (20:49.4), Madeline Carter (21:14.79) and Christina Funk (21:19.72).
Lansing's boys also won on the strength of a solid pack attack. Liam Neidig placed sixth (17:06), Kenneth Howell was seventh (17:11) and Terry Robinson was eighth (17:16) as the Lions posted a score of 54. Raymore-Peculiar (Mo.) was second at 67, and Shawnee Mission North third with 69.
The Circle boys' squad won their home meet in a beautiful display of pack running. The squad finished 7-9-10-11, led by Eli Jacobson in 17:35.1. That closing push put them ahead in a tight team race: Circle scored 47, while Andover Central was second with 51 and Augusta third at 56.
Around the state. Some of the other notable performance around the state this week:
* Tanner Lindahl of Buhler continues to make his way back from an injury that sidelined him last track season. The defending class 4A state champion won his team's home meet in a time of 17:13.8, his first win since taking the state title at Wamego last year.
* Connor Hall of Norton, a senior, won the Hays Invitational with a time of 17:03.58. Daniel Little of Jackson Heights won the Onaga Invitational in 17:38, while Olivia Kuckelman of Centralia took the girls' title in 21:57.08.
* Eric Frances of Scott Community out-ran the field at the Hugoton Invitational, clocking 18:96.6. But Liberal's Alex Lopez was second (18:15.52) to lead the Redskins to the team win with 65 points. The top four teams were separated by just 12 points.
At the Heartland Classic in Pella, Iowa, St. James Academy's Katie Moore had her best race of the season, clocking 19:19.4 for fifth place in a very strong field. St. James, which has not run at full strength yet this season, finished 11th in the girls' team standings.