Week 6 in Review: Cross Country Relays?

Hayden's Tanner Newkirk set a new personal best en route to his second Topeka City Championship Victory
 (Photo by Alex Walters)

Distance athletes often get the short end of the stick when it comes to relays. In middle school, it's a sprinter's dream with 4x100, 4x200, and 4x400 events. In high school, the 4x800 replaces the 4x200, opening a window of opportunity for those distance athletes with some half-mile speed, but still doesn't fit the distance runner's mold for a relay. Events like the Distance Medley or 4x1600 are few and far between, especially with the extinction of the Kansas Relays. On the collegiate scene, the Distance Medley is available indoor, but the 4x100 and 4x400 are the only relays contested in the spring. In short, distance relays aren't really a thing.

Saint James didn't like that.

The private school in Lenexa decided to fill that need with a cross country relay carnival in the final week of the regular season. The idea was hatched in 2018, and in year 3 the event is looking strong. There were events for 2x2Mile, 3xMile, and 4xMile, along with a parents & coaches 4xMile.

Blue Valley Southwest's boys hung on to beat St James. Cooper Reeves took the baton with a 21-second lead, and just barely held off a charging Jacob Kreeger for the win. Kreeger's gutsy 4:38 split may have been the performance of the week.

Olathe East's 2x2Mile teams were tearing it up, clocking 25:37 for Addi Stanley and Meredith Serrano, and 21:18 for Carter Stewart and Luke Peterson. Both teams won their gender division, and Stewart's 9:57 split was the fastest of the day.

The girls 4xMile was close at the final exchange between two St James teams, but Christine Znidarsi dropped a 5:54 last leg to win by 34 seconds. KC Christian won the boys 4xMile with their varsity team of Spencer Mumford, Andrew Schumacher, Nathan Connealy, and Luke Browning.

In traditional XC meets this week, there were a few champions crowned. Topeka had their city championship, where Washburn Rural held off Seaman's girls and Hayden's boys to capture both team titles. Hayden's Tanner Newkirk set a PR of 15:22 as he defended his title, holding off Shawnee Heights junior Kory Sutton, who had the race of his life in 15:41. Washburn's girls went 1-2-3 in a tough field with Madeline Carter, Khloi Bird, and Payton Fink.

In a couple of early League Championship meets, Norton's Jaelyn Rumback won the Mid-Continent Girls Title in 21:50, and Jonathan Hamel from Stockton won the boys title in 18:23. In the Northwest Kansas League, Quinter took home both team titles, while Brenden Ellis from Ingalls and Emma Weiner from Golden Plains won individual titles.

West Franklin made a statement at the Osage City Invite, crushing the girls field with 20 points, and outmatching Anderson County on the boys side 44-93. The Falcons grabbed both individual titles as well, with Emma Bailey leaving no doubt in the girls race, and her brother Hunter coming from behind late to beat Silver Lake's Cameron TenEyck and Humboldt's Drew Willhite.

Sacred Heart's girls continue to look good, packing 4 in the top-10 to win at Ellsworth on Tuesday. They pulled double-duty this week and took runner-up to Southeast of Saline on Saturday at Riley County.

West Elk's Josie Ware has quietly put together a solid season. The 2A standout won at Eureka with a 20:38 on Tuesday, and turned backed it up on Saturday with a 5th place finish at El Dorado in 21:07.