The postseason begins in just a matter of hours for Kansas
cross country teams and some would say this is about as important a week as it gets.
This is "bragging rights" week, an avalanche of league
championships. There are 39 leagues in the state of Kansas, which means that 78
individual and team champions will be crowned by week's end.
In many cases, league titles rank pretty darn close to a
state title. Winning regionals...nah, not a big deal, just survive and advance.
But a league title is a win against your biggest rivals, against the kids in
the next town or county - and sometimes the same town - and maybe against the
kids that you'll see next summer at the pool or the mall.
Schools hang banners for league championships. Some leagues
build points from each teams' finishes at league events and crown an
all-sports champion at the end of the school year.
Only about 12 percent of schools with cross country teams
win a league title. About 2 percent of all runners in the state win an
individual league title.
So, yeah, it's a pretty big deal.
Buckle up tight, folks, it's about to get really fun around
The Sunflower League can solidly stand on its own when it
comes to top competition, but this year's girls' race features two of the
state's all-time best. Shawnee Mission Northwest's Molly Born will go up
against Lawrence Free State's Emily Venters in a matchup of runners who have
won the last three class 6A state titles.
Venters, who ran a career-best 17:53 to win at Haskell last
weekend, won individual state titles in 2013 and 2014. Born, who moved up a
spot to No. 17 in the Saucony Flo50 U.S. rankings this week, ran a
much-publicized 17:10 at the Baldwin Invitational the week before. She unseated
Venters as the class 6A champion a year ago.
They'll match strides at Rim Rock Farm in what may be just a
warmup to the state meet on the same course on Oct. 29.
The rest of the Sunflower League is certainly no slouch. In
the girls' division, there are 16 runners who have run sub-20:00 for 5K this
season, and 47 who have gone under 21:00. In the boys' division, 16 runners
have broken 17:00, and 42 are sub 17:30.
Will Tindall of Olathe East has the league's fastest time of
16:05, but that's not far ahead of John Arnspiger (16:07) and Jack Young
(16:08) of Shawnee Mission East, and Olathe East teammate Ben Kahnk (16:09).
In the battle of Sunflower League teams, Lawrence Free State,
Shawnee Mission North and Shawnee Mission Northwest are all capable of winning
the 6A state title, as are Olathe East, Shawnee Mission East, Olathe North,
Shawnee Mission North and even Leavenworth on the boys' side.
MORE SPEED OUT EAST
The Eastern Kansas League is stock full of speed, too. There
are 16 girls who have run sub-20:00 this year, and 35 who are under 21:00. The
boys' division has 19 runners under 17:00 and 42 that are sub-17:30.
You could also call that league meet a preview of the 5A
state championships: St. James Academy's girls won the Rim Rock Farm Classic
earlier this year, but St. Thomas Aquinas is the defending 5A champs and Mill
Valley is solid. The girls' division also has class 6A contenders Blue Valley
North and Blue Valley West. You could run pretty well at this meet, and still
The boys' division has probably the top 3 teams in class 5A
- St. Thomas Aquinas, Mill Valley and Blue Valley Southwest. All three teams
have frontrunners, and all three pack it in tight. It will be a battle that is
not for the weak of heart.
Oh, I see great individual and team races all over the state
this week. The Western Athletic Conference features a boys' team battle between
Dodge City and Garden City. The individual race will be great between Dodge
City's Marcelo Cruz (16:10 this year), Great Bend's Kerby Depenbusch (16:21)
and the Garden City duo of Marcus Tula (16:22) and Erik Chaparro (16:27).
Ethan Kossover of Maize South will battle Andover's
Alex Moen and Andover Central's Grant Sinclair in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League (division
2). Maize South runners have the top 3 times in the girls' division, but
Andover Central's depth still could make the team race interesting.
In the AVCTL division 1, a good individual showdown between
Salina South's Josh Reed (16:23) and Derby's Jonathan Jones (16:36) is well
Manhattan's girls, the reigning class 6A state champs, go
for their seventh consecutive Centennial League title, while the boys' squad is
also looking for seven in a row. Pierce Flanders and Jaybe Shufelberger of
Washburn Rural will try to duplicate the Topeka City titles they won on the
same Felker Park course last weekend.
Dylan Brenneman, who holds the state's fastest 5K time this
season (15:26), will run in the Frontier League, while Cailie Logue, who has
the girls' fastest 5K (16:45), will run in the CNC League meet.
Trego Community's Helen Giefer (19:10) and sister Sybil Giefer (19:27) enter the Mid-Continent League championships with the first and
third best times in class 2A. Bennington's Halle Johnson (19:25) and sister Kya Johnson (19:29) head to the Heart of America championships with the second and
fourth best times in 2A. Kya Johnson is the reigning 2A state champ.
The state's fastest freshman girl, Aimee Davis of Clearwater
(18:22), will lead her team into the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail league meet
(division 4), while the state's top freshman boy, Matthew Pickering of Manhattan
(16:24), will be in Topeka for the Centennial League meet. Another freshman who
has run well is Rene Trout of Independence (19:13), who will compete in the
Southeast Kansas League meet.
Clearwater's Davis is the only runner in AVCTL division 4
meet that breaks up the deep and talented Circle girls' team, which has 5 of
the top 6 times going in. Circle's boys are also the team favorite.
The best of Wichita will come out to run on Saturday.
Wichita East is the favorite in the Greater Wichita Athletic League's girls' division,
with five of the top 15 times going in, while Bishop Carroll may have the edge
right now in the boys' chase. I think Wichita East could put up a good fight on
the boys' side. Wichita North's Gabriela Reyna, fourth in 6A state last year, is a heavy favorite to defend her league title.
Two of the state's best in class 2A boys will square off in
the Southern Plains-Iroquois League. Luke Skinner of South Gray has run 16:40
this season, but Frank Cuevas of Kiowa County (16:54) has been pretty
consistent this year, as well.
The Frontier League features four schools that like to beat
up on each other: Eudora, Baldwin, DeSoto and Ottawa. Trinity Academy, third in
class 4A last year, will kick off another postseason run at the Central Plains
Jack Thomas of Scott County, the state champion last May in
the 3200 meter run, has the top time in class 3A (16:36) and will run in the
Great West Activities Conference. Steven Cline of Halstead is the defending 3A
state cross country champ - so is his team - and will kick off defense of their titles in the
Central Kansas League meet.
Coaches: Please send results of your league meet as soon as possible Thursday afternoon or Saturday afternoon for posting on MileSplit. If you are not hosting the meet and not able to send us results yourself, please ask the meet director to send these results as soon as possible. Send original HTML, PDF or Excel files to Pat Melgares, melgares@LetsGoRun.com, or Jim Madison, email@example.com. Please do not send scanned copies or photographs of results.