The 1A & 2A championships will be held at Sand Plum Trail in Victoria. Runners will finish through this picturesque chute (Photo: Fort Hays State Athletics)
KSHSAA State Cross Country Meet | 1A/2A
KSHSAA State Cross Country Meet | 3A/4A
KSHSAA State Cross Country Meet | 5A/6A
Stanton County is a cross country school, plain and simple. The Trojans from Johnson City, KS have the most decorated history of any school in Kansas. Yes, you too, Shawnee Mission Northwest. Since the program's inception in 1978, their girls team has missed state twice. The other 41 times, they've qualified for state and emerged as champions in 12 of those. The boys program has similar mind-boggling numbers with 55 appearances and 11 titles since 1963. All that is to say, they're always really good.
The girls come in as moderate favorites. The defending champs brought back Chesney Peterson (1st last year at state) and Suzanne Farnham (8th last year) for another round, and the two have had stellar seasons. The main competition for the Trojans will be Remington (last year's runner-up), Sacred Heart, and Central Heights. Sacred Heart has the right pieces: a good pack time and a solid front runner in Maddie Ehrlich, but they lost to Remington at regionals.
COVERAGE: KSHSAA 1A/2A XC State Meet
Barring disaster, Chesney Peterson will win the individual crown. I mean no disrespect to this year's field, but she's just that good. Josie Ware from West Elk looks to lead the chase pack. Ehrlich will be in there as well. Look for Wabaunsee's Payton Wurtz to be in that mix as well. Central Heights sophomore Emma Cubit was a regional champ, so don't count her out for a top-5 finish. Lucy Brown from Remington is another one capable of shaking things up. She hasn't been as consistent this year, but she could easily surprise with a good finish that could help her team out as well.
On the boys front, things are a little more crowded. Four athletes return from last year's top-10: Kamryn Golub (Stanton County) was 3rd and is the popular choice to win it this year, with his state-leading time of 16:29. His only defeat of the season was at the hands of Lakin's Lawson Beymer on Beymer's home course. Berean's Andrew Harder (5th last year) will also be in the mix. He won the Buhler regional and has a season-best of 16:41. Hutch-Trinity's Jonah Godina has a head-to-head victory over Harder, so keep an eye on him as well. Daniel Little of Jackson Heights has had a solid season, including winning a muddy Chase County regional in impressive fashion over Mission Valley's AJ Rubio. Rubio was 6th last year in 2A, while Little was 6th in 1A. If the former is in the neighborhood with 400m to go, though, watch out. Rubio's kick is one of the best around.
Team-wise, Berean Academy has a razor-thin edge over Stanton County. The Warriors won by 8 points over Stanton County last year, and this year looks to be just as close. Hutch-Trinity was in that mix for a while, but haven't been the same since Rim Rock, and lost to Stanton County by 33 points last weekend. McLouth and KC Christian are also in the mix, but both have flaws. KC Christian has 4 under 18:00, but their 5th man has yet to break 20:00. McLouth, on the other hand, packs well but lacks front runners. Should either of them put things together on Saturday, they'll be on the podium as well.
Nobody has really set themselves apart, so the odds of someone running away with this race is low. That goes for both teams and individuals. With so many going in with high hopes, 2A state should be fun!
KS Milesplit Predictions: Matt Goeckel
Boys Team: Berean Academy
Individual: Kamryn Golub, Stanton County
Girls Team: Stanton County
Individual: Chesney Peterson, Stanton County