2A State Preview: Chesney Peterson Headlines Dominant Forces

To be quite frank: 2A has some overwhelming favorites this year. That doesn't mean it'll be boring, though.

To start things off, we'll take a look at the top dogs: Stanton County. The Trojans took home all the gold last year, winning both boys and girls team and individual titles. The boys team is the only one not favored to do it again this year. Chesney Peterson is the superstar on the girls side, and she's better than ever right now. She's won 63 races in a row, and just PR'd in the 5K at 17:43. The Wamego course record is 18:08.87, a time that she's bested 5 times this year. Needless to say, that record is on high alert this weekend. Nobody has come within a minute-and-a-half of her this year, and don't expect state to be any different.

Peterson's teammates are no slouches, either. Suzanne Farnham is a multi-time state medalist, and will likely be top-10 again. With six runners at 23:00 or better, these girls are a runaway favorite over fellow 2A powers Remington and Sacred Heart.

Camryn Golub is the individual boys favorite after a well-earned victory a year ago. He has won 5 of 7 races this year, and each of his losses was a close 2nd to athletes from bigger schools. He is the only 2A runner under 16:30 this year, running 16:23 at Lakin. His regional time of 16:42 was the fastest of the weekend by 17 seconds. After proving he's a tactically sound racer last year, it's unlikely he'll blunder at state as a senior.

That just leaves the boys team title... Stanton County graduated a lot behind Golub, so it's Berean Academy who steps in. Hardly a breath of fresh air, the Warriors were champions in 2020 and dominated 1A before that. They were ever-so-slight underdogs to Stanton County last year before the Trojans had their special day. This year, though, Berean is taking no chances. Their league foes, Marion and Hutch-Trinity, have jockeyed with them in the rankings this year, but decisive victories at league and regionals have put the Warriors squarely in the driver's seat for another state title.

As mentioned, Marion and Hutch-Trinity are certainly podium contenders. Marion (also the Warriors) had the upper hand at regionals, while the Celtics were ahead at league. That is an interesting storyline to follow heading into state. The rest of the field is quite crowded behind them. Meade, last year's 1A champs, has moved into 2A and will have a say in things after knocking off Hoxie by 6 at the Great Bend regional. Central Heights ran away with their home regional. They can match anyone through 4 runners, but will need a big day from either Brylan Sommer or Aydan Dunbar to take home a trophy.

For the girls, the aforementioned Remington and Sacred Heart will be favored to take the remaining trophies behind Stanton County. The battle will be a good one, too. Sacred Heart has the better times throughout the season, but Remington's regional performance was better than expected. They match up very similarly when put side-by-side now, which makes for a thrilling race for silver. If anyone is to spoil the party, it'll be Oakley. Second to Stanton County at regionals, the Plainsmen have a quality program running and are poised to make a jump if someone else has a bad day.

Other individuals that will be near the front for the girls include Payton Wurtz of Wabaunsee, Madison Sutterfield of Meade, Avery Boydston of Ellis, and a Sterling duo of Julia Kilgore and Faith Ekart. Wurtz is an incredible athlete in her own right, taking runner-up to Peterson in the 400, 1600, and 3200 in track, as well as the cross country 5K last year. Sutterfield has been chasing Peterson all year long, but was knocked off by Boydston at regionals. As for the Sterling girls, the odds of at least one of them having a good day is fairly high.

Lyndon's Braydon Marcotte (center) and Central Height's Cody Hammond (left, back) should both be in medal contention at state
(Photo by Brandon Ngo)

For the boys, things may look a little different behind Golub, despite 8 of last year's top 10 being underclassmen. AJ Rubio, last year's runner-up from Mission Valley, tore a ligament in his knee during a soccer game this fall, so he will be absent. Brady Wells of Sacred Heart will return, but hasn't posted times like he did as a freshman last year. As it appears, the best individuals are on the best teams. Berean Academy has Andrew Harder leading the way, Meade has Logan Keith, Marion has Gavin Wasmuth, Trinity has Jonah Godina, and Central Heights has Cody Hammond.

Non-team individuals that could be in the top-10 are Ell-Saline's Carson Fouard and Garrison Zerger, and Lyndon's Brayden Marcotte.