Collin Oswalt of Hutchinson-Central Christian (front) hopes to regain the class 1A state title, but defending champ Caleb Eilert of Beloit-St. Johns (left) will be on the prowl again.
Upsets aren't a common occurrence in cross country. Usually teams are separated by the work done behind the scenes in practice. Every once in a while, though, the stars align for a top team to get beat.
That's exactly what happened out west in Greeley County when Meade took the 1A regional crown over LaCrosse and Quinter. LaCrosse sits at No. 1 in the MileSplit database and the coaches poll, and was the odds-on favorite to win class 1A.
At regionals, however, Meade had a message for Lacrosse: Not so fast, Leopards.
Meade freshmen Trent Roberts and Logan Keith led a 29-point outing for Meade to upset LaCrosse by a convincing 17 points. Lacrosse was missing its fourth scorer in Colton Maneth, so this week's rematch at the class 1A state championships still carries some drama.
Don't let the excitement out west distract you from Olpe, though. The Eagles are led by a top five runner in
Nolan Redeker and won the Wichita regional over Goessel. Expect them to be in
the mix next weekend in Victoria.
Wetmore was champions of the Riley County regional. Expect them to rely on their tight 33-second, 1-4 split in their bid for the podium.
In its first year as a KSHSAA member, Cair Paravel Latin School qualified its boys team. While the small Topeka school may not be at the front, it's quite a feat to qualify in your first try.
Individually, the boys' race will feature two former champions in Caleb Eilert from Beloit-St. John and Collin Oswalt from Central Christian. Oswalt, the 2018 champion, has been absent for most of the year, but his two races have been eye-openers: a 15:44 victory on Oct. 1 and 15:58 this weekend at regionals.
He will be the favorite next weekend at state. However, that was the case last year when he was knocked off by Eilert in his 27-second runaway for the 2019 title.
Eilert's best time this year is 16:38, but as shown last year, the St John's senior can't be counted out.
Now, how about Doniphan West's girls? The Mustangs were state champions a year ago by a single point over Berean Academy, and have brought everyone back for another round this season. Short of this story: they may even better.
Chloe Clevenger and Elle Williams are both primed for a run in the top five with season bests of 20:31. After winning regionals with 22 points, Doniphan West enters state daring anyone to challenge their dominance.
The best of the rest may be the Classical School of Wichita, which won the Wichita regional with 20 points. Over the course of the season, the Saints match up fairly well with Doniphan West, but lack the second half of the 1-2 punch that the Mustangs can bring.
Lincoln, led by two-time defending state champ Jaycee Vath, will be in the team fight as well. They were second to Doniphan West at regionals, and will get another crack at the Mustangs as they compete for the podium at Sand Plum in Victoria next weekend.
Keep an eye on Meade's girls, too. They won the Greeley County regional, but have been a little under the radar this season. They could be a wild card in this year's meet and push one of the heavyweights off the podium.
As mentioned, Lincoln's Vath has been the first across the line at state the past two years. Now, as a senior, she looks to etch her name among the best in 1A history as she shoots for No. 3. If you're wondering, her freshman campaign ended in a runner-up finish in 2A, so she's about as close to perfection as you can get. Her season best of 19:33 is 50 seconds ahead of the next best in class 1A.
Among those are Golden Plains' Emma Weiner, the Greeley County regional champ, and Macy Smith of Olpe. Smith was third at regionals, but her season best of 20:23 shows her potential. Count on the Doniphan West duo to be in the mix as well.
This will be the first state meet ever held at Victoria's Sand Plum nature trail. The course features several short, steep hills dipping in and out of an old riverbed. The course, maintained by Fort Hays State, has a championship atmosphere about it and should make for a great venue.
Class 1A State Meet at a Glance
Saturday, Oct. 31 at Sand Plum Nature Trail, Victoria
Girls Start: 12:35 PM
Defending Individual Champions: Caleb Eilert, Beloit-St Johns (boys); Jaycee Vath, Lincoln (girls)
2020 Kansas MileSplit Predictions
Boys Individual Champion: Colin Oswalt, Central Christian
Girls Individual Champion: Jaycee Vath, Lincoln
Boys Team Champion: Meade
Girls Team Champion: Doniphan West