Eilert Surprises Oswalt for Class 1A Title

St. Johns-Beloit's Caleb Eilert ran an inspired race to win the class 1A boys state title.

It's quite possible that Caleb Eilert of St. Johns-Beloit had an extra dose of incentive to run in the class 1A state cross country championship Saturday at the Wamego Country Club.

Eilert missed most of the spring track season after he was injured in a bicycle accident, wiping out his shot to compete at the state track and field championships.

On Saturday, he proved he belonged among the state's elite, waiting patiently behind defending state champion Collin Oswalt of Central Christian for two miles before making a vicious move and winning by 27 seconds.

Eilert, a junior, was clocked in 16:22.97 while Oswalt, also a junior, finished in 16:49.

Oswalt won the cross country, 1600 and 3200 meter titles and entered Saturday as the pre-meet favorite, having run the division's fastest time during the regular season. But he ran into a highly-motivated Eilert, who had finished second to Oswalt last year.

For Eilert, it was his first state title, though he was part of the St. Johns-Beloit team that won the state championship in 2017.

Eilert's win on Saturday helped to get his team back on the podium at state, as St. Johns-Beloit finished in a tie with Osborn for third with 62 points. St. Johns-Beloit won the fifth-runner tiebreaker.

Berean Academy scored 49 points to survive a tight team race with Axtell, which finished with 54.

Junior Drew Janzen led Berean Academy with a ninth place finish in 17:50. The rest of the team's scorers were Eli Nord (15th, 18:05), Gavin Tucker (17th, 18:09) and Trey Topham (46th, 18:34).

Axtell's Quinn Buessing was sixth in 17:19 to lead his team. Clark Warner also earned a medal for Axtell, placing 14th in 18:03.

Doniphan West pulled out a nerve-wracking, one-point win for the class 1A girls team title. Elle Williams placed fourth (20:32), Chloe Clevenger placed 11th (21:29) and Claire Cole placed 16th (21:41) to give Doniphan West a pretty comfortable margin...or so it seemed.

The squad waited nervously before Lilly Clark's 63rd place finish completed their team score at 62.

Berean Academy and Lincoln both got their fourth runners to the finish line before Doniphan West, but came up just short. Berean Academy ended with 63 points, while Lincoln had 66. Pretty Prairie was in the game, too, finishing fourth at 79.

Jaycee Vath of Lincoln powered her way to the individual state title, winning for the second year in a row. She's now won four consecutive state meet races, including her wins in the 1600 and 3200 meters last spring.

Vath, a junior, headed off a challenge from Madison Sutterfield, a feisty freshman from Meade, to win on Saturday. Sutterfield entered Saturday's race with the fastest time in class 1A this season, clocking 19:12 at the Lakin Invitational three weeks ago. She had not been beaten by a class 1A runner this season, and came in on a four-race winning streak.

But Vath set a fast early pace and built a comfortable lead that she rode all the way to a winning time of 19:11 - her season best. Sutterfield was the runner-up in 19:48 while Olpe's Macy Smith placed third in 20:10.

Berean Academy's Brooke Wiebe rounded out the top five in a time of 20:37.

See the complete results of the class 1A state championships on Kansas MileSplit's results page.

Kansas MileSplit's Alex Walters also contributed to this report.