Rock Creek's Kyra Nippert and West Franklin's Lily Judd have a showdown to the finish at the Silver Lake Invitational last Saturday. Check out more photos from the meet here!
Most cross country courses have a primary purpose, whether that be a golf course, a campground, or local park. For Silver Lake, this primary purpose is residential. That's right, the Eagles host their home meets on private land offered by a generous family. Holder's Course, as they call it, is a spectator-friendly course where the majority of the first two miles can be watched from the top of a pair of hills near the start and finish lines. On Saturday, Silver Lake kicked off the season with 5 other schools in the first edition of their new invitational.
The races began at 9:30AM, but by then the sunshine and humidity were already starting to drive up temperatures. First off was the combined middle school 2-mile, with 7th and 8th grade boys and girls together. The boys race was decided early. West Franklin's Hunter Bailey emerged as the leader after the first corner and left the field in the dust. He had nearly a minute between him and 2nd place at the halfway mark and finished in 12:03. Riley County's Manuel Castro started off in the mix but faded as the race progressed, allowing Aemon Coffman from Silver Lake and Ethan Tonsor of Rock Creek to move up and battle it out for 2nd place. Tonsor, just a 7th grader, showed his toughness, but it was Coffman that shined through with a strong finish in the last half mile to finish 2nd in 14:09. Tonsor took bronze in 14:17.
Middle school girls was a firefight beginning to end. Silver Lake's Tessa Gerber and Wabaunsee's Payton Wurtz took off with purpose. It looked to be a 2-person race early on, but by the halfway mark, Riley County's Mikaila Frese had slowly closed the gap and joined the leaders. The early-race battle had worn down Gerber, and the race started to get away from her in the final minutes. Frese had taken the lead as they charged into the final hill at the finish, and even pulled a smart move keeping Wurtz from passing her on the inside of the 2nd to last corner. Payton Wurtz would not be denied, though. She had led the whole thing and wasn't going to lose it at the end. She waited for an opportunity and as a slight gap opened on the last corner in the final 5 meters, she grabbed the opportunity to take the inside and crossed the finish line before Frese even knew what happened. Their times were nearly identical at 14:02.4 to 14:02.5. Tessa Gerber finished a few seconds later in 14:17.
On the high school side, the girls race was two-by-two early. Mariah Farmer (Silver Lake) and Hailey Sharp (Riley County) battled for 1st, while Lily Judd (West Franklin) and Anna Ruby (Silver Lake) battled for 3rd. In the wooded section of mile 2, Farmer opened a 17-second gap, meanwhile Rock Creek freshman Kyra Nippert moved into 5th. Heading into mile 3, Judd and Sharp were side-by-side, while Nippert was not far behind in 4th. Farmer held her lead through the back half, but didn't extend it after the halfway mark. The early pace came back to haunt Hailey Sharp, and she fell back into 4th. Farmer crossed the finish in 22:16, but the excitement was behind her. Lily Judd and Kyra Nippert, both of whom had run well in the second half of the race, were battling it out for 2nd. Nippert made her move at the bottom of the last hill with 200 meters to go. The freshman put a few steps between her and the West Franklin junior before Judd flipped the switch. The two battled up the finishing hill, but Judd, a 400-meter runner on the track, was able to pull back ahead to secure the silver medal by 1 second in 22:33. Hailey Sharp finished 4th in 23:06 and Anna Ruby rounded out the top-5 in 23:10. Team-wise, Silver Lake dominated with 3 in the top 6 for a 22-point victory.
The meet ran on a good schedule, with the boys race starting
just after 10:30. Silver Lake's Cameron TenEyck, 9th at 3A State a
year ago, emerged from the pack as the early leader. Trailing him was West
Franklin sophomore Kyle Haner, and Silver Lake's sophomores Mason Brokaw and
Kamryn Kaniper. The front of the race was fairly uneventful. That was the order
they finished in, with Rock Creek senior Hunter Asbury rounding out the top-5
with a good finish. The movement in the race was back in the pack, where the
team race was tight. Silver Lake was the state runner-up last season, but 4 of
their top 7 are missing from that team (2 to graduation and 2 to unknown
reasons). The Eagles found themselves in a team battle with the Falcons of West
Franklin. Early on, it appeared that Silver Lake would pull away, especially
with an overwhelming 1-2-3 punch at the front. They had a 12-point lead.
However, West Franklin packed well and their 5th runner was finding
a rhythm. The deficit dropped to just 1 point at the halfway mark, and the
Falcons took a 3-point lead shortly after. At the halfway mark West Franklin picked
up two more spots to lead by 5. The race was starting to get away from the
defending runner-up. A couple points here and there, though, and Silver Lake
was back in it late in mile 3. When the dust settled, the scores were even at
47. The hero of the day was Martyr Caceres Ramos, the 6th man for
West Franklin. He had displaced Silver Lake's 5th scoring runner to
add an extra point to send it into a tie, and he was the tiebreaker as
the faster 6th man. Let it be known: Every runner matters on the
cross country course.