Rim Rock Delivers Another Year of Thrills

The eyes of Kansas cross country shifted to Rim Rock Farm this weekend for one of the region's best meets, and many of the state's fastest runners did not disappoint.

Hope Jackson of Bishop Carroll ran away with the girls gold crown, clocking a career best time of 18:31.4. The sophomore broke away from Payton Hinkle of Broken Arrow, Okla. en route to an 11 second victory. Her finish marks the fastest time run among Kansas girls this season; that's impressive enough, but even more so because it was on the rolling hills of Rim Rock Farm.

The race featured 17 of the top 20 times run by Kansas girls this week, and six girls dipped under 19:00. Five of those were Kansas girls, including St. James Academy's Katie Moore (18:50.2), Maize South's Alexa Rios (18:54.6), Chapman's Taylor Briggs (18:55.9) and Mill Valley's Katie Schwartzkopf (18:58.0). Schwartzkopf, a sophomore, was the 2018 class 6A state champion.

Her Mill Valley team, a huge favorite to defend their 6A team title this season, rolled to the Rim Rock title on Saturday, posting 92 points. In addition to Schwartzkopf, the Jaguars got an eighth place finish from senior Morgan Koca (19:07.3) Johnston, a traditional power in Iowa, placed second with 113 points, while Denver East was third at 167 and Blue Valley Southwest was a solid fourth at 169.

McKenna Polus (15th, 19:23.8) and Brinn Wilson (19th, 19:36.4) led Blue Valley Southwest.

Kinnane leads Kansas boys. Andover's Ryan Kinnane seems to love Rim Rock's tough terrain. The gritty senior placed fourth on this course at last year's class 5A state championships in a career best time of 16:12.

On Saturday, he did it again - but even better. He placed second in the boys gold race, dipping under 16:00 for the first time in his high school career when he crossed in 15:59.6.

Will Daley of Denver East set a blistering early pace that the chase pack never could make up. He won the race in 15:39.8.

But Kinnane, Emporia's Treyson True and Manhattan's Daniel Harkin staged their own exciting battle some 40 yards back. Kinnane eventually broke away, while True grabbed third in 16:04.4 and Harkin followed in 16:05.2.

For True, it was a huge PR, and it was the first time in four tries this season that he was able to get past Centennial League counterpart Harkin, who clocked 15:11 to win the Missouri Southern Stampede last week.

Washburn Rural's boys were the top Kansas team in the gold division, topping class 6A preseason favorites Mill Valley and Lawrence Free State. Rural posted a 37 second pack time - led by seniors Caleb Wright (15th, 16:31.7) and sophomore Alex Holmes (41st, 16:58.2). Rural scored 193, while Mill Valley and Lawrence Free State were fifth and sixth, both with 206 points.

Mill Valley's Darius Hightower placed 11th (16:21.9) and Lawrence Free State's Charlie Johnson was 13th (16:24.7) to lead their teams.

Finish of the Week. Well, we may have normally picked Beloit-St. John's Caleb Eilert's thrilling win in the boys' blue division for this honor, and we would have been justified. Eilert clocked 16:28.3 to edge Girard's Cormick Logue, who was just six-tenths of a second behind in 16:28.9.

A great finish, for sure, but...

In the boys' crimson division, Tanner Newkirk of Hayden dug down to his toenails to fight off Lee's Summit's Luke Byrne and Wichita North's Michael Iyali. The three staged a blanket finish in which Newkirk was declared the winner in 16:11.1.

Byrne and Iyali - third place in the class 6A state championships a year ago - were right on his heels in identical times of 16:11.8.

The team title in the boys' crimson division also came down to a few precious seconds here and there. Shawnee Mission East won the meet with a 48 second pack time, led by freshman Ben Rodriguez (17th, 16;53.6). Shawnee Mission East scored 218 points to edge Lexington, Mo., which scored 221.

Logue's Girard team won the boys' blue title with 175 points, while Clay Center - led by Jaret Pfizenmaier (third, 16:42.0) - was second at 204.

'Rapping up Rim Rock. Riley Hiebert of Eudora won the girls blue division at this year's Rim Rock Invitational, clocking 19:49.7 and leading her team's runaway victory with 74 points. Ashlyn Harbaugh of Bennington was second in 19:58.8.

Norton Community, led by 2018 class 3A state champion Lexi Kats (ninth, 20:36.9), was second in the team chase with 147 points.

Tori Wingrove of Blue Valley, a sophomore, won the girls' crimson race in 19:19.5, while Kapaun Mt. Carmel freshman Addie Curtis was second in 19:44.4. Derby was the top Kansas girls' team, placing third; that squad was led by sophomore Vivian Kalb's third place finish (19:49.9).

Griak...and more. Other highlights of Kansas cross country this week include a handful of the state's teams at the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota.

Aidan Reyna of Olathe West placed 44th in 16:47.1, leading all Kansas runners in the field of 570. Logan Seger of St. Thomas Aquinas was 49th in 16:50.8 to lead his team.

St. Thomas Aquinas led Kansas teams, placing 16th in the field of 62. Olathe South was 34th, Olathe West was 37th, and Olathe North was 42nd.

Olathe North's girls were the top placing Kansas team, grabbing 15th place in the meet. Sarah Whitaker was 49h (19:40.9) and Kaylee Tobaben was 51st (19:43.6) to lead that squad. There were 505 runners in the girls' gold race.

St. Thomas Aquinas placed 35th, followed by Olathe West (37th), Shawnee Mission North (47th) and Olathe South (52nd.)

Other highlights this week:

Sawyer Schmidt of Augusta posted the state's fastest time not run at Rim Rock when he won the Goddard Invitational in 16:35.5. Teammate Brice Helton was second in 17:29.8 as Augusta rolled to the team title. Addie Hoeme of Pratt won the girls race (21:12.5).

Tyler Stevenson and Alex Cannady of Central Heights posted a 1-2 finish at the Ramsey Invitational in LaCygne, leading their team's win. The duo were separated by just two-hundredths of a second - Stevenson in 18:06.36 and Canaddy at 18:06.38. Trinity Moore of Louisburg won the girls race in 20:37.9.

Topeka West freshman Lenny Njoroge and senior Luke Phelps-Roper also put up a 1-2 finish to win the Tonganoxie Invitational. Njoroge was clocked in 16:48.8 and Phelps-Roper crossed in 17:04.4. Topeka West had 39 points to edge the home team, which had 45. Freshman Grace Hanson of Piper won the girls' race in 20:14.3.

* At the Jason McKinney Memorial in Wabaunsee, Nolan Redeker of Olpe, a junior, won in 18:15.8, but Wabaunsee put five runners in the top 10 for the team title. Macy Smith of Olpe, also a junior, won the girls' race in 21:16.9.

* In Larned, Mayra Ramirez of Great Bend clocked 20:38.4 for the individual win, but Thomas More Prep took the team title with 34 points. St. John-Hudson won the boys' team title with 48 points, just getting by Hoisington, which had 49. Senior Aj Miller of St. John-Hudson won the individual title in 17:57.6.