The first full week in September is always a big one for Kansas XC, and it's only gotten bigger in recent years. Wamego has always been a major early-season clash for 1A-4A schools, while Olathe Twilight has emerged as the equivalent in 5A & 6A. Add in other meets like the Hesston Swather Special and Topeka's Joe Schrag Invite, and you'll quickly realize that week 2 is a stacked card.
Kicking things off on Thursday was the Hesston Swather Special. What makes it special? I'm glad you asked, because this always needs explaining. Instead of using traditional scoring, Hesston awards points by grade. If you are the first senior across the line, you get 1 point. If you're the first freshman across the line, you also get 1 point. So, in theory, a perfect score is 6, rather than 15 (the best freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, and #2 from any class). For the girls, they only score 3, so a perfect score would be 3. It is unique to Hesston, favors some different strategy, and has led to some strange upsets over the years. They also separate out 1-2-3A and 4-5-6A schools and shortened the race to 2 miles this year.
For the girls, Salina-Sacred Heart edged out Smoky Valley 8-13, while Holcomb's boys edged out Berean Academy 17-19. Salina South's girls and Salina Central's boys won the large-school division. Holcomb sophomore Brody Deniston had the top time at 11:35, while Salina Central's freshman sensation Kaylie Shultz clocked 12:27 to lead the girls.
Up in Holton, the Wildcat girls lost a nail-biter to Oskaloosa 50-49. The Bears went 2-5-10-13-19, with their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th runners all finishing just one spot ahead of their Holton counterparts. Eva Cortes won the race individually for Holton.
Elsewhere on Thursday, Hoxie's boys went to Quinter and destroyed the defending 1A champs 12-27 (using 4-man scoring). This immediately puts Hoxie as the 2A title favorites at this point in the season, as the Indians' top-5 averaged 17:32 for the meet, and already defeated fellow 2A heavyweight Hutchinson-Trinity last week.
Speaking of 2A contenders, the girls individual race is going to be crazy. In the power vacuum left behind by Chesney Peterson, three girls have already broken 20:00 looking to take her place as queen of 2A. Ellis sophomore Avery Boydston (4th at state last year) won the Hoxie meet in 19:31.
Smith Center's Madison Howland was a big story last week as an emerging 2A favorite, but she was immediately replaced this week by Northern Heights freshman Ellei McCrory. At Wamego, a notoriously tough course, she crushed the 1-2-3A field by over a minute with an 18:49.
That's top-5 all-time.
On her first try.
The shock of McCrory's performance distracted most from the team scores, where Norton quietly dismantled a solid field with 73 points and a sub-22:00 average.
In the boys 1-2-3A race, John Langill proved the doubters wrong (myself included) and pulled away to win. Silas Miller, whom I talked up last week, was a distant 5th place. Smoky Valley Homeschool, led by Jacob Tonne, had a somewhat surprising team victory.
Sticking to the theme of non-KSHSAA schools winning, Christ Prep won the 4A Girls race in dominating fashion. Baldwin edged out Southeast of Saline for 2nd, and more importantly beat their rival and defending 4A champs, Eudora. Hanna Keltner was the consolation prize for the Cardinals, though, winning in 19:01.
For the 4A boys race, Southeast of Saline (a 3A school) won over Buhler, while Wamego finished 4th. Brayden and Cayden Walker finished 1-2 for the Trojans. Buhler & Wamego are favored to repeat as the top two teams in 4A this year.
Saturday evening was obviously highlighted by Olathe Twilight, which will be detailed fully on Monday, Sept. 11 in our KC Meet of the Week Recap. The major winners were Wichita Trinity's Clay Shively in the boys race and Olathe North's Anjali Hocker-Singh in the girls race.
The rest of the state had its fair share of excitement, too. A clash of 6A power players happened in Emporia, where emerging Manhattan star Lucas Holdren proved last week was no fluke with a victory over Maize senior Kaleb Glazier. Bishop Carroll won the team title. For the girls, Junction City's Lorna Rae Pierce continued to impress, setting another personal best at 18:25 to win. Kapaun Mt. Carmel (91pts) won a barn-burner over Manhattan (92), Junction City (98), and Bishop Carroll (100).
At Greeley County, there was an interesting scenario where Scott City and Garden City's girls tied at 44, and neither had a 6th runner to break the tie. A secondary tiebreaker had to be used, and Scott City was awarded the win due to them having the better 1, 2, and 3 runners.
Lastly, Topeka hosted the Joe Schrag Invite, where Seaman handled business in the varsity races. Ryin Miller was the individual winner by two minutes for the Viking girls, running a blistering 17:41 for the top time in Kansas, just fractions of a second faster than Anjali Hocker Singh (at Olathe Twilight) and Katelyn Rupe (last week at Great Bend). Jackson Esquibel of Shawnee Heights continued his senior campaign with a win in 15:28.