Rain, rain go away, there are cross country runners who came
Mother Nature enforced her mighty will on a wide swath of central and eastern Kansas this week, causing several meets in the state to be postponed or cancelled.
She was no match, however, for the storm that several Kansas teams brought to the Kansas City Cross Country Classic on Saturday.
Tori Wingrove of Blue Valley, a sophomore, won the girls' title in a time of 19:06.9, outdueling Olathe West freshman Aubree Blackman, who was just a few strides behind in 19:10.1. Those were the fourth and fifth fastest times run by a Kansas girl this week.
Blackman and her teammates got the biggest prize, however, winning the team title with a score of 74. Fellow freshman Charis Robinson (20:09) placed 12th to key the team win.
On the boys' side, St. Thomas Aquinas' Logan Seger placed fifth overall, leading the Saints to the team title with 114 points. Olathe South was second with 122. There were 33 teams that ran in this year's Kansas City Classic.
Caliente in Arkansas. While many parts of Kansas were cold and rainy, it was mucho caliente in Fayeteville for this year's Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival, hosted by the University of Arkansas.
The high school races attracted nearly 100 teams from around the region. Mill Valley proved to be up for the fight, leading a handful of Kansas teams at the meet.
The Mill Valley girls placed third in a field of 79 teams, led by a 19th place finish from sophomore Katie Schwartzkopf (19:14.7) and 24th from senior Morgan Koca (19:22). They continue to trade punches with another great class 6A team, Olathe North, which was fifth on Saturday. Olathe North was led by sophomore Kaylee Tobaben, who was 11th in 19:04.5.
The fastest Kansas girl, however, was Riley Beach, a junior from Blue Valley Northwest who was the class 6A state champion in 2017. Beach placed eighth in 18:51.7, the second fastest time run by a Kansas girl this week. Teammate Carolyn Thurlby was 20th in 19:15.6 to lead their team to a 12th place finish.
There were 629 runners in the girls varsity race.
Mill Valley's boys also led Kansas schools in a powerful field of 98 teams. The Jaguars placed fifth, led by senior Darius Hightower in 28th place (16:08.4). Shawnee Mission East was 25th, followed by Blue Valley Southwest (30th), Olathe North (36th), DeSoto (40th) and Blue Valley Northwest (53rd).
Carson Sturdy of DeSoto was the top Kansas finisher, placing 24th in 16:06.4. He and Hightower had the top two times among Kansas boys this week. Henry Nelson of Bishop Seabury had the fourth best time among Kansas runners this week, placing 61st at Chile Pepper with a time of 16:31.
Briggs keeps on rollin'. Chapman's Taylor Briggs keeps dropping fast times like they are leaves on a fall tree, as the junior continues to motor her way toward a third consecutive class 4A state title. She posted the fastest time among Kansas girls this week, winning the Council Grove Invitational in 18:50 - winning by 52 seconds over a pretty good runner, Riley Hiebert of Eudora (19:42).
But Hiebert and her mates won the team title handily, scoring 24 points. Senior twin sister Reagan Hiebert was third in 20:11, followed by Phoebe Fletcher (7th, 21:06), Kate Erpelding (8th, 21:06) and Maya Pattison (12th, 21:24).
Silver Lake is a team on the rise. On Thursday, they put up another solid five with senior Gabe TenEyck (third, 17:33), sophomore Cameron TenEyck (sixth, 17:43) and freshmen Kamryn Kaniper (seventh, 17:49) and Mason Brokaw (11th, 18:05).
Around the state. There were many more solid races this week in Kansas. Among them:
* Alexa Rios of Maize South won the Newton Invitational in 19:44.4, more than a minute over the rest of the field, leading her school to the team title. Ryan Kinnane of Andover topped the boys' field with a time of 16:20.2, winning a duel with Wichita North's Michael Iyali (16:36.4). Andover won the boys' team title, getting top 10 finishes from Sam McDavitt (ninth, 17:28.5) and Kaden Hauck (tenth, 17:32.4).
* Dylan Sprecker led the Southeast of Saline Machine, winning the Halstead Invitational in 16:34. Luke Gleason was third in 16:49, and Dominic Jackson was fourth at 16:58.7, leading the squad to a win with 30 points. Col Bixler-Large of Clearwater placed second individual with a time of 16:41. Jentrie Alderson also led Southeast of Saline to the girls' team title, winning the individual race in 19:32.7
* The Giefer Siblings of Trego Community swept the individual titles at the Ness City Invitational. Wyndom Giefer, a junior, won the boys' race in 16:36, while senior Sybil Giefer took the girls' win at 19:32. Scott Community won both team titles.
* One of the better individual races of the weekend took place at Winfield. Craig Labrue of Winfield held off a hard-charging Brayden Rohr of Wichita Northwest to win in 16:43. Rohr settled for second in 16:45, while Winfield's Camilo Tarin was just off the pace in third at 16:56. Winfield won the team title with 40 points. Skye Kroskey of Wichita Northwest, a sophomore, led her team to the win, placing first in a solid time of 19:43.7.
* At the Berean Invitational, Asher Brown of Remington finished in 16:52 for an eight second win over Morgan Becker of Canton-Galva (17:00). Hannah Grover, a freshman from Sunrise Christian, took the girls' title in19:43.1. Berean won the boys' and girls' team titles.