Week 5 Recap: Riley County Hitting their Stride

Take notes, ladies and gentlemen. Riley County's boys are putting on a clinic for how to progress during the season.

The Falcons started the season in a distant 25th place in the Milesplit database. At their first meet, they averaged a humble 20:43, losing to multiple 3A teams. At Wamego, they averaged 20:22, finishing 6th and a distant 106 points behind 3A #4 West Franklin.

A week later, they knocked a minute off their average time, upsetting 3A #3 Smoky Valley.

A week after that, they knocked 30 more seconds off at Rim Rock, finishing just 3 points back from West Franklin.

This week, they knocked another 30 seconds off and won their first meet of the season.

Riley now averages 18:21 and has placed themselves squarely in the podium conversation in 3A. To get to that state podium, though, they'll have to get through the ruthless Southeast of Saline regional they've been assigned. According to Milesplit's database, that regional contains the #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, and #7 teams in 3A. Should the Falcons make it out of that alive, they'll be podium favorites for sure.

Speaking of podium favorites, Olathe West's girls continue to impress. As one of the nation's best, the Owls were expected to win the KC XC Classic, but the way that they won on Saturday certainly exceeded expectations. They won by 56 points over St. Teresa Academy (MO), and their 1-5 split was just 58 seconds. For the boys, Olathe South remains the team to beat in 6A. They bested the 41-team field with a score of 107. It would have been nice to see them match up against Blue Valley Southwest, but the Timberwolves took this week to rest several varsity members.

Individually, Anjali Hocker-Singh outlasted a tough field to win in 17:52. She becomes the first Kansas girl to break 18:00 in a meet that isn't Olathe Twilight. Mill Valley's KATIE SCHWARTZKOPF came oh-so-close to that mark for the second week in a row, clocking 18:00.5 for 3rd place. Buhler is over 200 miles from Kansas City, but that didn't stop Tanner Lindahl from winning the 314-man race in 15:52.

Elsewhere around the state, Corbin Ricke from Spearville is making plenty of noise out West. His back-to-back wins at Larned and Ness City in the past two weeks have put him at the top of 1A, though Canton-Galva's 1-2 punch of Morgan Becker and Christian Darrah will be tough to beat. Becker appears to be coming off an injury, but Darrah's 17:01 at Berean Academy is close behind Ricke's 16:54.

Lakoddah Downes of Council Grove won his 5th meet in a row at his home invitational, clocking a personal and school record of 16:10. Downes and Southeast of Saline's Dylan Sprecker are on a collision-course for next Saturday at Riley County in what could be the race of the weekend.

Manhattan's girls got back on the winning side of things at the Maple Leaf Classic, scoring 31 with a 37-second pack time. Paige Mullen of SM Northwest won the race, though, in 18:54. The boys race was a highly-anticipated battle between SM North's Micah Blomker and Hayden's Tanner Newkirk. Entering the race, both had at least a partial claim to being the best runner in the state. Exiting the race, there was only one: Blomker. He has proven time-wise and in head-to-head battles that he is the undisputed #1 in 2021. His 15:31 was a healthy 24 seconds ahead of Newkirk.

Lastly, at Centralia, there was a good battle in the girls race between 1A #1 Doniphan West and 2A #6 Wabaunsee. The Mustangs went 1-4-10-11-14, while Wabaunsee went 2-5-9-12-13. It was a razor-thin margin, but Doniphan West outmatched the Chargers 40-41.