The big highlight of Week 4 in Kansas is the Rim Rock Classic. That one is so big, that it deserves its own recap article, found here. That being said, however, Rim Rock is not the only game in town. Roughly a dozen other varsity meets happened throughout the state this week, along with a big out-of-state Invitational that's worth talking about.
While most Week-4 meets in Kansas live in the shadow of Rim Rock, many still find ways to put on a meet. Some find that hosting on Tuesday works best, while others hold steady on Thursday & Saturday. A few meets are far enough from Lawrence that they are not affected by the gravitational pull of Rim Rock in late-September.
One of those is the Stanton County Invite. Sitting about as far from Lawrence as possible in the state of Kansas, the golf course in Johnson City brings in the best small-town teams in Southwest Kansas. Meade's boys handled business over the 8-team field, even with top runner Logan Keith off competing at Rim Rock. The Buffaloes won 62-73 over Lakin, Stanton County, and Springfield (CO), who finished in that order following the tiebreaker procedures. Alex Luce and Austin Ritsema went 1-2 for Lakin. The girls race was won by Cimarron's Janae Fugitt, while South Gray crushed the field with 4 in the top-10.
Up in Norton, the home-team girls continued their run of blowout victories, with Emma Collins and Mackenzie Clydesdale going 1-2. In the boys race, Quinter and Hoxie went at it again, and for the first time this season, Quinter landed the knockout blow. With Hoxie's #4 out, the Bulldogs took advantage for a 41-49 win.
The last of our three noteworthy Western-Kansas meets was at Larned. Ness City's girls continued to look strong, packing two in the top-10 to win as a team. Avery Boydston of Ellis annihilated the individual field by over two minutes. Pratt-Skyline posted an impressive win on the boys side, defeating Hoisington and Ness City, among others. Hoisington's Kamden Tarlton was the individual winner, pulling away from Kiowa County's Samuel Martinez.
Working our way East, Southeast of Saline hosted their annual invitational on Thursday, where the Trojans packed really well to win both sides. The boys placed 1-2-3-4-13, while the girls went 8-10-11-12-13, both coming away with dominant victories over annual 2A contenders Berean Academy (boys) and Salina-Sacred Heart (girls). Brayden Walker has now won 4 races, while Hesston's Ashley Lehman won her third.
In Goddard, the individual races were polar opposites. Chaparral's Cady Hempill won the girls' race by nearly 3 minutes, while Andale's Jack Cutler posted just a 3-second win over Luke Griffith of Goddard. The Lions beat cross-town rival, Goddard-Eisenhower 68-74 in the boys race, while Andale topped the girls' standings.
In Southeast Kansas at the Southeast Lancer Invite, Labette County's Anna Cantrell broke free to win by over a minute, while her teammates took 3rd, 4th, and 5th to win the meet. Frontenac's Tallon Bonine grabbed the boys' gold medal with a 5-second win over Cherokee-Southeast's Zayne Gabern. Gabern's Lancers took the team title with 40 points.
Marion's boys looked solid at their home meet, winning 37-56 over Chase County, while Hillsboro's girls won a close battle over Wichita-Central Christian 32-33. Elyria Christian's Laney Reiff took the 51-second victory individually.
Payton Wurtz made her return at her home invitational at Wabaunsee. She clocked in over 2 minutes ahead of second place, but her Chargers lost to Junction City. Kaleb Arnold led the boys' race by well over a minute, and his Olpe teammates helped secure the team title.
In out-of-state action, Micah Blomker (SM North) took down the entire field in Stillwater, OK for the Cowboy Jamboree. His 15:43 was the third-fastest ever over that tough course. His Shawnee Mission North team got 7th, and so did the Olathe South girls.
Lastly, it's hard to go too long without talking about Clay Shively & Wichita Trinity. The superstar and his nationally-ranked team headed to Minnesota for the Roy Griak Invitational, and came away happy. Shively overpowered two other runners late, and won in course-record time. The Knights finished 8th overall, with a much-needed return of Caleb Tofteland. Wes Ferguson still has yet to race this season, but once Trinity is firing on all cylinders, this crew could be dangerous. Roy Griak is no easy course, though, and Wes's time of 18:15 from last year's meet wouldn't have changed their team position. A bump to 17:22 (110th place), though, would vault them to 2nd place in a race that included several NXR contenders.
Shively wasn't the only one that left Minnesota with a gold medal, either. Blue Valley West's Brock Olsen won the Yellow division of the meet. On the girls' side, Anjali Hocker-Singh placed 5th as the top Kansas girl, and her Olathe North squad came away with a 5th place finish, the best among all Kansas boys or girls teams.