Few Surprises as Kansas Runners Advance to State

Emma Bailey of West Franklin won the Anderson County Regional on Saturday.

The battle cry for Kansas' cross country teams at regional meets across the state this weekend was pretty simple: Survive and Advance.

 Except for a few instances, that's exactly what happened.

There were no major surprises as the best in Kansas set themselves up nicely for next week's state championships, which take place Saturday at the Wamego Country Club (1A, 2A and 4A) and Lawrence's Rim Rock Farm (3A, 5A and 6A).

Among the top 10 runners (according to season-best times) for each classification - which adds up to 120 runners - 117 of them advanced on to state. Two of those who failed to qualify individually (Mayra Ramirez of Great Bend and Ty Brechler of Blue Valley West) may still get to run at state because their teams qualified.

Only Sawyer Schmidt of Augusta, who placed second at the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail league meet a week earlier, failed to move on to state among those with top 10 times during the 2019 season.

Those that did qualify this weekend put on a pretty good show. Daniel Harkin of Manhattan and Hope Jackson of Bishop Carroll - who entered the week with the fastest times among Kansas boys and girls - moved on easily: Harkin won the Junction City regional in 16:07 and Jackson finished in 18:27 to win the Bishop Carroll regional by nearly a minute and a half.

And welcome back St. James Academy's girls. The state champs from two years ago have battled through injuries and sickness for the better part of two seasons, but on Saturday, they seemed to find their groove again. Seniors Katie Moore (18:39.1) and Sarah Murrow (18:52) finished 1-2 at the Blue Valley Southwest regional as their squad scored 38 points and an eight-point victory over defending class 5A state champion St. Thomas Aquinas.

Murrow won the individual state title a year ago, en route to sweeping the 1600 and 3200 on the track. She had not raced until the Eastern Kansas League meet a week ago; her time at regionals is an indication that she is once again a contender to defend her individual title.

The best regional race this weekend? It might have been the class 6A Blue Valley West regional where eight of the top 12 runners in the state this season went head-to-head. Tori Wingrove of Blue Valley, ranked No. 1 in 6A for much of the season, was true to form, winning the regional in 18:36. Sarah Whitaker of Olathe North was a solid second (18:46), leading her team to a score of 53 and a 10 point win over Blue Valley West - two teams that could be on the state podium come Saturday afternoon.

Morgan Koca (18:42) and Katie Schwartzkopf (18:56) led Mill Valley to a dominating win at the Shawnee Mission South regional. The Jaguars had six of the top eight finishers and scored 21 points to runner-up Shawnee Mission South's 72. Mill Valley, last year's class 6A champs, appear to be heavy favorites to defend their state crown.

There were two regionals held at Johnson County Community College on Saturday. In the Blue Valley West regional, 23 boys finished under 17:00, while in the Shawnee Mission South regional, another 16 boys dipped under 17:00.

Darius Hightower of Mill Valley won the Shawnee Mission South regional in 15:58, while Justyn France of Olathe South won the Blue Valley West regional in 16:16.

Olathe North's boys, the two-time defending state champs in class 6A, failed to qualify out of the Blue Valley West regional. The squad had been on the outside looking in for much of the current season, but actually fell just two points behind Blue Valley West for the third qualifying spot.

St. Thomas Aquinas' boys seemingly just primed the pump for their sixth consecutive state title, dominating the Blue Valley Southwest regional easily. The Saints scored 23 points, while Blue Valley Southwest was second with 52 and St. James Academy had 55. Logan Seger of St. Thomas Aquinas won the race with a time of 15:55.

Carson Sturdy of DeSoto had the fastest time among Kansas boys this week, winning the Topeka West regional at the flat and fast Stateland Course in 15:43. He won an exciting race against Lansing's Liam Neidig (15:51) and Terry Robinson (15:54). Desoto (51 points) also edged Lansing (56) for the team title.

In class 4A, two-time state champion Taylor Briggs won the Buhler regional in 19:05 and enters this week's state meet as the overwhelming favorite to win again. Briggs, a junior, has never lost in six state races (cross country and track and field). Tanner Lindahl of Buhler, who won the 4A state title last year as a freshman, also seems to be rounding into fine form, winning the Buhler regional in 16:36 - five seconds better than Jaret Pfizenmaier of Clay Center (16:41).

Cormick Logue of Girard had the fastest time among class 4A boys this week, clocking 16:05 to win the Chanute regional. Girard scored 33 points and had a five-runner average of 17:18 to easily win the regional team title.

Collin Oswalt of Hutchinson-Central Christian roared to an impressive win at a class 1A regional on his home course. He finished in 16:03, and is an overwhelming favorite to defend his state title this week. Oswalt's win came against a field that includes six of the top 10 runners in class 1A this season.

The class 1A girls state meet sets up as a great battle between defending state champion Jaycee Vath of Lincoln - who won a regional title in 19:14 - and Meade freshman Madison Sutterfield, whose season-best of 19:12 is the top time in the division this season. Sutterfield was the champ in the Tribune regional, her fourth consecutive win in October.

Lincoln's girls won the 1A state title a year ago, but had not fielded a full team for most of this season. They finally put four on the course Saturday and will get a chance at defending the 1A state title after finishing second to Doniphan West at the regional meet.

In Class 3A, Southeast of Saline's boys continue to dominate, scoring a 75 point win in the Norton regional. Dylan Sprecker was the regional champ in 16:43, just edging Norton Community's Connor Hall (16:47). Norton Community won the girls' team title, led by class 3A defending state champ Lexi Kats, who finished third at regionals on Saturday. Jentrie Alderson of Southeast of Saline, who has topped the class 3A rankings throughout this season, won the regional with an impressive time of 18:40.

Central Heights nearly posted a perfect score in dominating the class 2A regional on its home course. Tyler Stevenson (18:26), Alex Cannady (18:29), Mason McMurry (18:30) and Luke Cotter (18:31) finished 2-5 to key the win. Henry Nelson of Bishop-Seabury, the top returner in class 2A boys this season, won the race in 17:18.

Sybil Giefer of Trego Community led a strong field at the class 2A Great Bend regional. Giefer, third at state last year, clocked 19:04 for the win against a field that included six of the top 10 runners in class 2A this season. Chesney Peterson of Stanton County was second in 19:13.

Full results of Kansas' regional meets is available on the Kansas MileSplit results page.