After a great season of cross country, Kansas Milesplit has some postseason recognitions
The Boys All-Class Kansas Team
Micah Blomker, Shawnee Mission North
6A Champion, 5th at Nike Heartland, Season-best of 14:57 at Olathe District Activities Center (ODAC)
Ashton Higgerson, St. Thomas Aquinas
5A Runner-Up, Season-best of 15:25 at ODAC
Tanner Lindahl, Buhler
4A Runner-Up, Season-best of 15:35 at Nike Heartland
Tanner Newkirk, Hayden
Centennial Champion, Topeka City Champion, Season-best of 15:16 at Stateland Park (Topeka)
Sawyer Schmidt, Augusta
4A Champion, AVCTL Champion, 7th at Nike Heartland, Season-best of 15:15 at Nike Heartland
Logan Seger, St. Thomas Aquinas
5A Champion, 3rd at Nike Heartland, EKL Champion, Season-best of 15:05 at ODAC
Dylan Sprecker, Southeast of Saline
3A Champion, North-Central Champion, Season-best of 15:32 at Southeast of Saline
The Girls All-Class Kansas Team
Jentrie Alderson, Southeast of Saline
Undefeated 3A Champion, North-Central Champion, Season-best of 18:20 at Southeast of Saline
Grace Hanson, KC Piper
5A Runner-Up, Frontier Champion, Season-best of 18:11 at Stateland Park (Topeka)
Anjali Hocker-Singh, Olathe North
6A Champion, Sunflower Champion, 4th at Nike Heartland, Season-best of 17:11 at Nike Heartland
Chesney Peterson, Stanton County
Undefeated 2A Champion, Hi-Plains Champion, Season-best of 18:38 at 2A State
Katie Schwartzkopf, Mill Valley
5A Champion, Season-best of 17:44 at ODAC
Kaylee Tobaben, Olathe North
17th at Nike Heartland, Season-best of 17:55 at ODAC
Hayley Trotter, Clearwater4A Champion, AVCTL Champion, RimRock Blue Champion, Season-best of 19:09 at Mulvane
Upset of the Year - So many that we chose one for each class
1A: Quinter over Doniphan West
Doniphan West's girls returned pretty much everyone from back-to-back state titles. Quinter, on the biggest stage at state, toppled the giant with a 60-79 final score.
2A: Hutch-Trinity at Rim Rock
Trinity's top-5 averaged 18:31 to place 5th in the blue division, beating 3 higher-ranked 2A schools, 4 ranked 3A schools, 1 ranked 4A school, and the eventual Nebraska Class-D runner-up.
3A: Riley County over Smoky Valley
In a real head-scratcher, the previously unranked Falcons edged out the 3A #3 Vikings 86-89 at Clay Center in week 2. Riley managed to pull off the upset despite their top 5 averaging 14 seconds slower than the favorite. Smoky Valley, with the same 7 runners from that meet, would go on to claim 3rd place at 3A state, while the Falcons were 7th at regionals.
4A: Sawyer Schmidt over Newkirk & Lindahl
The Augusta senior had never defeated both Tanner Newkirk and Tanner Lindahl in the same XC race. In fact, he was 0-6 in such meets going into 4A State. It was the final state XC meet for all three seniors, and Schmidt finally came out on top. He backed it up with another win over the Tanners at Nike Heartland.
5A: Britton Kelly over Hope Jackson
To start the season, Hope Jackson and her Bishop Carroll team were huge favorites in 5A. Kelley, running for nearby Maize South, was the lone 5A runner ahead of Jackson at the season opener in Augusta, snapping her 15-meet winning streak.
6A: Wyatt Haughton over Micah Blomker
Micah Blomker has been a sensation in the XC world for two years now. He appeared unstoppable until SM East's Wyatt Haughton knocked him off by 1 second at the Sunflower League. Say what you will about SM North 'taking an easy week', Blomker let one slip away. Wyatt Haughton won the race and has the undisputed claim as Sunflower League Champion.
Corbin Ricke, Spearville
Ricke is the small-town success story that everyone loves. As a freshman he barely broke 20:00, his sophomore campaign saw him climb into the 18s and qualify for state, as a junior he claimed a state medal. A respectable career, but a story we've seen time and time again. History would say his senior season will look a lot like his junior season. Ricke doesn't care much for history. Instead, he emerged hungrier than ever. He PR'd in his second meet, winning his first XC race... and from that point forward he didn't lose. The 1A State champ wrote quite a story this year.
Katie Schwartzkopf, Mill Valley
Don't get it wrong, Schwartzkopf was an excellent runner before this year. However, she hadn't PR'd since her freshman year, and things weren't trending in the right direction as a junior. This year, though, she came out as a completely different runner, reclaimed her rightful place as 5A champion, and ran under that freshman PR six times.
Newcomer of the Year
Brady Wells, Sacred Heart
Sacred Heart is a storied program with quite a few recent struggles. The success of neighboring Southeast of Saline doesn't help, either. Perhaps a light in the darkness, though, was freshman Brady Wells. He fought through some really tough Salina-area competition all season long, and it paid off at 2A State, where he emerged from a pack late in the race to finish 3rd, the highest of any freshman boy this year.
Hanna Keltner, Eudora
Keltner was probably the worst-kept secret in the state last year as an 8th grader. She was Eudora's hope at finally having a leg-up on 4A powerhouse Baldwin. She came through in a huge way, finishing runner-up in the 4A State meet and leading her team to a championship.
Dylan Sprecker & Jentrie Alderson, Southeast of Saline
These two battled through a tough year in 2020. After both winning 3A state as sophomores, their junior campaigns in 2020 just had terrible luck. Sprecker suffered a broken foot in his first race and a COVID quarantine as soon as he returned. At state, his third race of the season, after being the overwhelming preseason favorite, he finished 4th. Alderson's junior season was plagued with illness. Late in the season, she wasn't even able to finish at Riley County. When she defended her title at state, she was a distant 7th. The sour taste stuck around a while for both athletes. Instead of letting it get them down, though, it motivated them. This year, Alderson returned with an undefeated senior season, defeating the 4A state champion twice along the way. Her PR of 18:20 at regionals was the best of six sub-19 performances. Meanwhile, Sprecker rattled off 8 wins this year, dipped under 16:00 three times, and annihilated any and all 3A competition. If you want a comeback story, look no further than Southeast of Saline.
Olathe East Boys
These guys were unranked in Milesplit's preseason power rankings, and they took it personally. Their results from last year were questionable at best, but last year was last year. This year, the Hawks put together some serious summer miles, and came out and punched third-ranked Manhattan in the mouth in week 2. They later came oh-so-close to beating top-ranked Olathe South at league, falling on the tiebreaker. To close things out, they finished 3rd at 6A state and 16th at Nike Heartland.
West Franklin Girls
In August, we weren't even sure West Franklin would field a full team. Not only did they field 7 runners, they all outperformed expectations. Junior Emma Bailey, returning from a knee injury last year, returned beyond her freshman form, leading the way for the Falcons. They would go on to be Flint Hills champions and finish runner-up in Class 3A. Not too shabby for a team that had zero expectations in August.