Rim Rock a Dream-Come-True for Some, Nightmare for Others

Ryin Miller (Left) of Seaman and Brett Jacobson (Right) of Circle were the top freshmen in the Girls Crimson race (Photo by Brandon Ngo)

Not so long ago, Rim Rock used to be a daunting course that most considered a challenge. Thanks to its hills, many even called it slow. That sentiment has changed over the last five years or so, with the course being a little friendlier to runners and their times. Rim Rock has been a benevolent entity for a while... until Saturday.

Before getting into the brutality of the day, though, let's cover the highlights. CJ and Will Meyer, brothers from Wichita Collegiate, took the top two spots in the boys Blue race. It was eerily similar to when the Burks twins from Beloit swept 3A state in 2017.

Kansas Milesplit doesn't typically cover Missouri athletes, but MoMilesplit hasn't reported on the meet so we'll mention it here: Katy Menke, a senior from Hermann, won the girls Blue race in 19:52. It was her first individual victory on the grass. For your first win to be at such a special meet during your senior year, that's a priceless memory, and what high school sports is all about.

The girls Crimson race had a strong showing from St James, with the Thunder topping the team standings with 62 points. The top Kansas finisher in that race was Circle freshman Brett Jacobson at 19:32.

In the boys Crimson division, Lenny Njoroge broke away late, charging down the homestretch in a race against the clock. For a moment, the crowd thought he had broken 16:00; the announcer even said that he did. But alas, as the official results came in, he had missed it, at 16:00.1. That was the second time running right at 16:00 this season, but his other two results have come in under that barrier. John Langill of Nemaha Central was third in the Crimson race, and the second Kansas finisher across the line. Langill has been a breakout athlete this year, and may develop into a serious contender for the 3A crown next month. Team-wise Buhler and St James were the top Kansas teams, fighting for 3rd. The former would win that battle on a 6th-man tiebreaker by just 4 spots.

A pair of Western Kansas runners attack one of
Rim Rock's many hills (Photo by Brandon Ngo)

The Gold races were loaded, as expected. However, nobody really expected Katelyn Rupe to annihilate the field the way that she did. As she crossed the finish line in 17:45, no other athlete was even on the skyline yet. A few seconds later, KC Piper's Grace Hanson would pop into view, and her runner-up time of 18:41 was nearly a minute behind the winner. SM East's Lida Padgett was 4th in 18:49, and Clearwater's Hayley Trotter was 6th in 18:56.

For the boys, we got to see a 1-on-1 battle between Wyatt Haughton and Colby King. The duel was fierce, but Haughton had the upper hand nearly the whole race. King never got off his shoulder, and the two finished just a couple steps apart, at 15:18 and 15:19. Perhaps more impressive, though, was Tonganoxie's Eli Gilmore in third. The senior was about 40th place at the mile mark, but moved his way up brilliantly, running one of the most tactically sound races I've seen in a long time, and he broke 16 for the first time at 15:49. Shawnee Mission East solidified their spot as the top team in Kansas once again with a major team victory. Garden City pulled off a shocking third-place finish, taking down Kapaun Mt Carmel by 20 points.

With the highs, though, there were lows... particularly in the Blue varsity races, where the heat started to play a factor as the morning fog was gone and the 85-degree heat was beating down from above. West Franklin's girls were in position for a top-3 finish before their top runner dropped out during the final kilometer of the race. Twenty minutes later, Central Heights saw the same nightmare unfold as their bid for a team trophy was shattered when their top two runners were unable to finish. Cemetery Hill was especially brutal, as more than a handful of runners cramped up and failed to reach the top.

It was Rim Rock's not-so-subtle reminder that it's not a course to be taken lightly.

Elsewhere around the state, there was some quality action. At the Stanton County invite, Kamryn Golub defended his home course with a 0.08 second victory over Meade's Logan Keith. Meade, newly minted into 2A, defeated the defending champs 28-48 in the team battle. Chesney Peterson and company notched another dominant win on the girls side.

In more 2A action at the Marion Invite, the home-team Warriors looked dangerous in a win over up-and-coming Chase County. Remington took the girls division in dominant fashion over Hillsboro, led by Ava Klassen's two-second victory over Hillsboro's top runner Quinlyn Funk.

Hoxie and Quinter continued their run of going 1-2 at meets in Northwest Kansas, this time at the Norton Invite. The home-team Bluejays won the girls side, while Golden Plains' Emma Weiner continues to impress.

Southeast of Saline hosted their home meet on Thursday, going 1-2-3-4 and scoring 20 points. That's not to say there wasn't competition, though, as 2A heavyweight Berean Academy was in the mix, getting 2nd as a team. Their team average of 17:38 is impressive, but just couldn't compare to SE Saline's 16:48. Halstead's Addisen Wills notched another victory for her freshman season, running 19:56 to defeat Minneapolis senior Alayna Cossaart.

Lastly, there were a handful of teams that made the trip to Minnesota for the Roy Griak Invitational. Olathe West's girls, who won this meet last year, had a faster team average and lowered their team score by 30 points from 2021. However, they only managed to get third overall, falling to national powers Wayzata, Minnesota and Cherry Creek, Colorado.

Wichita Trinity, who was slated to run in the Blue division at Rim Rock, was nowhere to be found in that race. That's because they were up north at Roy Griak as well. Clay Shively was the top Kansas athlete in the race, placing sixth in 15:44. The team took 7th place in the field of 55 teams.

Looking ahead to this week, we have a handful of noteworthy meets. For the bigger schools, the KC XC Classic and Maple Leaf Invite will be headliners. Junction City also hosts their annual Bob Schmoekel Invite. For the smaller schools, Halstead and Council Grove are set to host some competitive meets as well. We also will start to see some league championships decided among some of the middle schools across the state!