WEEK 5 WRAPUP: Bennington's Johnson Posts State's Top Time for Kansas Girls

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With much of the state's attention turned toward larger weekend meets, it was a smaller Thursday meet that just may have been the best race of the week on the Kansas cross country scene.

Senior Halle Johnson of Bennington followed her victory in the Girls Blue division at the Rim Rock Classic by posting the state's fastest time by a Kansas girl this season, winning the Beloit Invitational in 18:11.00.

But it was more than just the time that made this a special race. For the second time this season, she out-ran Sylvan-Lucas sophomore Autumn Princ, who had earlier beaten Johnson in the season-opener and was the class 1A state champion in cross country, the 1600 and 3200 as a freshman.

Fast-rising freshman Jaycee Vath of Lincoln placed third in 19:22 (which, until Saturday's races, had been the No. 1 time by a Kansas freshman this season), while Hannah Burks of Beloit -- the state runner-up in the class 3A 1600 and 3200 meter runs last spring -- was fourth in 19:23. Sydney Burton of Abilene also broke 20:00, taking fifth in 19;57.40.

Johnson -- who displayed an aggressive, attacking mentality at Rim Rock last week -- was also a state champ on the track last spring, winning the 800, 1600 and 3200 in class 2A. Thursday's race firmly puts her in the conversation as the state's best on grass, regardless of division.

Elsewhere around the state:

St. James Academy Rolls at Baldwin

The St. James Academy girls team may have waited until the Rim Rock Classic to fully introduce itself to the state this season, but there is no hiding any more. The squad swept the top four spots and 5 of 7 to easily win the Baldwin Invitational with a team score of 17.

Shawnee Mission North was second with 55 points, followed by Shawnee Mission West (80) and Blue Valley Southwest (90).

Sophomore Sarah Murrow won the race in 19:09, leading a 13-second split for St. James' first four runners. Freshman Mary O'Connor placed second in 19:13.77, followed by sophomores Katie Moore (19:17.41) and Hannah Robinson (19:22.37). Senior Mary Goetz closed out the team score with a seventh place finish in 20:09.74.

Dylan Miller of Blue Valley Southwest clocked 16:14.39 to win a boys' race that saw 12 runners dip under 17:00. Matthew Harding of Bishop Carroll was just eight seconds back in 16:22.07, followed by St. James Academy's Jack Moore (16:26.03), Shawnee Mission North's Joseph Coddington (16:28.81) and St. James' John Matulis (16:38.91).

St. James Academy scored 70 points to edge Bishop Carroll, which had 72. Shawnee Mission North was third with 84.

Marshall wins the KC XC Classic

Junior Ethan Marshall is the latest in the line of outstanding runners from St. Thomas Aquinas. On Saturday, he beat an outstanding field to win the KC Cross Country Classic hosted by Raymore-Peculiar (Mo.) High School.

Marshall's time of 15:55.90 was a season and career best, and earned him a six-second victory over Edward Wilhite of Warrensburg (Mo.). It's also the fifth best time put up in Kansas this season.

St. Thomas Aquinas, however, could not out-run Rockhurst, which won the boys' team title with a convincing 42 point total. St. Thomas Aquinas was second with 89, followed by Olathe North (103) and Mill Valley (120).

Aside from Marshall, Olathe North had the only other Kansas runners in the top 10. Brian Beach was seventh in 16:18.40 and Jackson Caldwell placed ninth in 16:24.90.

Kansas runners had six of the top 10 places in the girls race, led by a fourth place finish by Olivia Sovereign of St. Thomas Aquinas, who clocked a season best of 18:48.90. Riley Beach of Blue Valley Northwest was fifth, posting the best time by a Kansas freshman this season when she ran 18:53.40.

Mill Valley put together a 43-second pack, but came up just short of winning the girls' team title. Raymore-Peculiar, which had placed second in the Girls Gold division at the Rim Rock Classic one week earlier, scored 83 for a one-point victory over the Jaguars.

Elsewhere around the state…

At the Seaman Invitational on Saturday, DeSoto's Sam Hubert won an exciting race against some pretty good runners. The junior crossed the finish in 16:19.05 ahead of Olathe East's Ben Kahnk (16:27.18), Leavenworth's Daniel Bohnemann (16:31.93) and Seaman's Maliki Pope (16:36.93). Olathe East beat Washburn Rural for the team title by 30 points.

Olathe East freshman Melody Ochana beat 'em all in the girls' race at Seaman, clocking 19:35.66. But Washburn Rural took the team title on the strength of a second place finish by Amanda Miller (20:12.71) and third place by Jaybe Shufelberger (20:36.87).

Brodric Shirley of Frankfort keeps right on rolling as he clocked 16:23.31 to win by more than a minute at the Centralia Invitational. Olivia Kuckelman, a sophomore from Axtell, won by nearly two minutes in the girls race, posting a time of 20:34.34.

Clara Mayfield of Manhattan also ran solo for most of her race, covering the rolling hills of Milford Lake in a winning time of 19:14.20. Teammate Emily Keeley ran a season best 20:19.60 as Manhattan put five in the top 9 and won the team title over Maize.

Nathan Jones of Maize was the winner in the boys' race as he established an early lead and never let Great Bend's Kerby Depenbusch catch up. Jones won in 16:19.20 while Depenbusch -- winner of the Boys Crimson race at Rim Rock last week -- was second in 16:37.80. Manhattan's Cooper Schroeder was third in 16:42.60, leading his squad to the team title.

Asher Moen of Andover kept the Newton Invitational individual title in the family this year. He won the boys' race in 16:43.20 one year after his brother Alex Moen had won the same meet. Wichita North continues to be solid, winning the boys' team title with 88 points, led by a third place finish from Michael Lyalli (16:52.20).

Wichita East senior Emilee Endsley, ninth in the class 6A state meet a year ago, won the individual title at Newton with a time of 19:57.40. Garden City's girls won the team title, led by a third place finish by Brooke Navarro (20:11.80).

Hadley Splechter of Yates Center won a good race against Aaron Modrow of Chapman and Brett Kulp of Riley County at the Council Grove Invitational. Splechter's time was 16:29.00, leading the Wildcats to the team title. Modrow was second in 16:40 and Kulp clocked 16:46.

Also in Council Grove, Chapman freshman Taylor Briggs looked impressive,winning by nearly a minute in 20:20. Eudora put five runner in the top 12 and won the girls' team title.

Hugoton swept the team titles at the Syracuse Invitational. Sara White of Lakin won the girls' race in 21:54.14, while Hugoton's Ethan Fox (18:17.25) and Abraham Garcia (18:17.66) posted a 1-2 finish. Holcomb's Christopher Nemechek was third in an identical time to Garcia.

Other race winners this week include:

·         Collin Oswalt of Central Christian (16:47.74) and Erin Topham of Berean Academy at the Berean Invitational;

·         Aimee Davis of Clearwater, who is 2 for 2 this season. After winning her season debut last week, she won the Halstead Invitational this week in 20:21.67;

·         Henry Nelson of Bishop Seabury (16:28.40) and Morgan Dierks of Sumner Academy (20:01.40) at the Maranatha Academy Invitational;

Jack Thomas of Scott Community (16:21) and Helen Geifer of Trego Community (19:37) at the Ness City Invitational;

·         Averi Wilson of Anderson County (20:21.73) and Luke Oatney of Pleasant Ridge (17:01.39) at the Perry-Lecompton Invitational;

·         Abby Stewart of Emporia (19:23.80) and Jonathan Jones of Derby (16:40.0) at the Winfield Invitational.