The landscape of Kansas Class 1A boys cross country changed
in early October when the Kansas State High School Activities Association made
its annual shift in school classifications.
KSHSAA announced that Olpe and South Gray would move to 1A,
and along with them the top two runners from Class 2A. That would be Olpe's
Kyler True and South Gray's Luke Skinner.
The duo know each other well, having matched up in cross
country and on the track numerous times the past two years. True is the
two-time defending state champion in 2A cross country, and Skinner was the
runner-up last year.
They are the individual favorites heading into the Class 1A
championships at the Wamego Country Club Saturday. True has the top qualifying
time from regionals, clocking 16:35 to win the Wichita regional last week, and
a season best of 16:01.
Skinner was a bit off his best last Saturday, winning the
Tribune regional in 17:59, but ran 16:39 to win his league meet the week
Olpe and Skinner better watch out for St John-Beloit junior
David Lutgen, who has significant upward momentum right now. He won the Riley
County regional with a season-best 16:44 last weekend.
Probably no surprise, but those three runners' teams are
also pretty good. If I'm betting - and I'm not - I'd take Lutgen and his St.
John's mates because they seem to have the best depth in the Class 1A boys
field. The Bluejays posted a Class 1A best team average of 18:19 at regionals,
which is more than 30 seconds better than any other 1A boys team.
Axtell, which was the runner-up to St. John's at the Riley
County regional, will be right in the mix, while Olpe (which only has four
runners and wouldn't even have qualified for state in Class 2A) and South Gray
have front-end strength and need their back end to win some finish line
The Class 1A girls team race is setting up to be a thriller.
Eight teams seem to be capable of rising to the top, though I'd lean toward St.
Paul and Goessel as the pre-meet favorites.
They fought it out at the Wichita regional last weekend,
with St. Paul scoring a six-point win, 30-36. Plus, those two teams had the
weekend's best team average (22:40 for St. Paul; 22:56 for Goessel), nearly a
minute better than the other contenders.
Saturday, though, everyone runs the same course, so we'll
have to wait to see how it shakes out. Wallace County and Ingalls - who tied
for first place at the Tribune regional - are very solid, as are the top two
teams from the Riley County regional, Centralia and Tescott.
South Central High School placed third at the Wichita
regional, but was just four points behind Goessel.
The Class 1A girls individual race may not be so close.
Sylvan-Lucas freshman Autumn Princ seems to be on another level from the field.
She won the Riley County regional last weekend in 19:02, nearly 2:00 better
than any other regional time by a 1A girl.
Robyn Selzer of Wallace County was the state runner-up in
2015 and heads up the rest of the field. She has the division's second best
regional time (20:56) and the experience of running at Wamego. She will face a
challenge from St. Paul's Taylor Wiatrak (season best of 20:59), and Rock Hills'
Sarena Meier (20:59).