Stanton County brought high hopes to Sand Plum Trail on Saturday, and they walked away with lots of gold. (Photo by Brian Peterson)
1-2A Race Video
Who won 2A XC? The short answer is Stanton County. Individual, team, girls, boys... no matter how you frame it, the Trojans won it. In some ways, they dominated. In others, they eeked out a close one. In the end, though, all the gold is going home to Johnson City tonight.
In the first race of the day at Sand Plum Trail in Victoria, Chesney Peterson took out like a rocket in the 2A Girls race. The senior had 20 yards on the field by the first corner. That gap would only get larger as she cruised to a 49-second victory. The battle for 2nd was exciting early. West Elk's Josie Ware, Remington's Ellie Van Zelfden, and Wabaunsee's Payton Wurtz all jockeyed for position throughout the first mile. It was Wurtz that started to pull away in mile 2, though, and she would go on to get 2nd with a huge PR of 19:27. Her previous best was 20:13 at League this season. Ware went on to place 3rd at 19:41, and Van Zelfden 4th in 19:59. There was a battle for the finish to round out the top-5, with Hillsboro's Emersyn Funk holding off Stanton County's Suzanne Farnham by ½ a second at 20:04.3.
On the team front, it was quite a battle. Watching the race, you really couldn't tell who had the lead. Six teams had two runners in medal contention, so it really came down to depth to separate the top-3. Stanton County, Remington, and Sacred Heart went 1-2-3, with only 4 points separating them. Sacred Heart's 3-4-5 runners ran well, while Stanton County's front runners picked up any slack that the rest might've left. Remington was a little more consistent, the pieces just didn't fall their way in the end. That's when you examine it up close, though. In reality, this was just three really solid teams battling it out and Stanton County was had the score to come out on top.
Sometimes, that's how dynasties roll. Even when things seem to be evenly-matched, big-time programs always find their way out of it on top. For the Trojans, this is their 13th state title on the girls side. For Remington, this is their 2nd runner-up trophy in a row to Stanton County. The Broncos probably don't have much love for those runners out West. There may have even been a smirk or two when Chase County's Alexus "Boots" Hatcher knocked Stanton County's coach over for standing in the middle of the course.
For the boys race, nobody had any idea how things would unfold. There were probably 8 teams going in with hopes of winning the whole thing. Berean Academy was my pick earlier in the week, but it was anyone's guess. If you guessed Stanton County, though, you were correct. They came to win. Kamryn Golub took it out in Chesney Peterson fashion. That is to say, really hard. Mission Valley's AJ Rubio was on his hip early. He's used to getting dragged through the wringer in the first mile by 3A standout Kodi Downes, so the 4:50 mile to start was a normal day's work for Rubio. Golub continued to inch away, though, and Berean's Andrew Harder was inching closer as well.
Harder's momentum would fade in the second half of the race, though. Golub and Rubio took 1st and 2nd with times of 16:08 and 16:28. Sacred Heart freshman Brady Wells broke away to take 3rd, while the pack swallowed up Harder as the battle for 4th raged all the way to the finish line. Stanton County's Spencer Schmidt emerged from that pack to take 4th in 16:48. Jonah Godina from Hutch-Trinity outlasted Northern Heights sophomore Cooper Hamlin for 5th, both crossing in 16:54. Hamlin had a prolonged surge around the 2-mile mark to move from 18th all the way to 5th, before settling for the 6th place medal.
Stanton County's Golub and Schmidt were the top two team scorers, and that pretty much set the tone for the team race. The Trojans ran away with 71 points. Berean Academy's hopes faded as the race went on. Harder and his teammate Eli Nord were 12th and 11th for the Warriors, which just couldn't hold a candle to the 3 top-10 finishers from Stanton County. Berean was able to hold of a slew of other challengers, though. 2nd and 7th place were separated by 19 points, and team averages were all within 8 seconds. McLouth was 4 points behind Berean in 3rd. Their program has been on the rise these last few years, and a state trophy is a testament to the great season they've put together. KC Christian, Hutch-Trinity, Central Heights, and Ell-Saline were all on the outside looking in. Good teams that each walked away with a couple of individual medals to show for it.
Looking ahead, Stanton County graduates 4 seniors, so next year's team standings could look a little different. Save for Stanton Co's Robles and Wenman, the rest of the top-10 returns for next year's race, so the 2A competition should be even stiffer in the near future.