Wichita Trinity Academy raises their 2021 championship trophy on the football field at Wamego (Photo by Josh Hobson, courtesy of Wichita Trinity)
Fifty-three weeks after getting eliminated at the 2020 regional meet, Wichita Trinity hoisted the 2021 3A Boys Championship trophy. Sometimes that sour taste of being the first ones out can motivate a team to do great things, and that's certainly what happened in this case. Last year's team didn't deserve to miss. The private Christian school was likely a top-5 team in the state, but was third in a brutal regional system where only two teams advance. Their path this year wasn't any easier, in fact, they met resistance every step of the way. This year, Trinity put in the summer miles, beat the #1 team midseason, advanced out of an even tougher regional, and climbed the mountain to their first state title.
It was a collective dominating effort from Wichita Trinity. Clay Shively showed what he could do, moving from 7th to 2nd place overall in the second half of the race. Jacob Hobson (6th), Sam Ferguson (13th), Caleb Tofteland (15th) and Ian Carroll (17th) all medaled for Trinity as well. Just 58 seconds separated their top five. 6th-Man Wes Ferguson even finished ahead of Southeast of Saline's #5 runner for good measure. This was an absolute blowout.
Southeast of Saline, the three-time defending champions, took the runner-up spot. Senior leader Dylan Sprecker returned to glory as the individual champion in 16:09. Despite having two other teammates in the top-10, it wasn't nearly enough to stop Wichita Trinity.
Individually, Collegiate's CJ Meyer (16:31) and Marysville's Silas Miller (16:34) followed up Sprecker, Shivley, and Council Grove's Kodi Downes in the top five. Sprecker let everyone know early that he was #1, opening a big lead. It took two miles for the others to spread out, though. Shively broke free with about 800m to go, and Downs' finishing kick put away Meyer, but couldn't quite close the gap for 2nd. He finished just fractions of a second behind Shively. Miller capped off a fantastic sophomore campaign as well. Fifteen of the top twenty were all qualifiers from the Southeast of Saline regional. Sprecker was the only senior in the top ten, so expect a lot of familiar faces at the front next year.
For the girls, Jentrie Alderson led gun-to-tape to reclaim her status as state champion. As a sophomore, she bested the 3A field, but illness knocked her down to 7th last year. Nothing was knocking her down on Saturday, though. She powered to a time of 18:59, 30 seconds ahead of second place. Prairie View's Bree Allen was second across the line, finishing her freshman season in style. Her team came up big as well, walking away with a third-place trophy. Prairie View's top four are all freshmen, with two sophomores backing them up, so their future looks bright.
Rounding out the top five in a pretty tight chase pack were Olathe-Heritage sophomore Hannah Thong (19:59), West Franklin's Emma Bailey (20:20) and Fredonia's Campbell O'Dell (20:35). Going into the race, Alderson was the favorite for gold, but everything behind her was anyone's guess. The individual parity in 3A girls is quite refreshing.
Southeast of Saline was the only school to put two in the top ten, and that set the tone for the team race as they won with 46 points. This is their second consecutive championship. West Franklin was a clear runner-up with 63 points. Emma Bailey and Hope Crabtree both medaled for the Falcons. West Franklin has had a good program over the last decade, but never enough to bring home a trophy. This year was finally the one where they got over the hump and earned some hardware. As mentioned before, Prairie View was 3rd as a team. Their 102 points was thirty-two ahead of fourth, so this year's standings left no doubt who was 1, 2, and 3.