Being a varsity runner for the Shawnee Mission Northwest boys cross country team comes with a certain amount of pressure and privilege.
The program won its 21st Kansas Class 6A state championship last Saturday at Rim Rock Farms in rural Lawrence, cementing a place in the Cougars’ all-time annals for the latest group.
“There’s definitely pressure, but we know we’re in good hands and we’re confident that way,” said senior Clayton Henderson, who led SM Northwest with a fifth-place finish.
He ran a personal record time of 15 minutes, 57.2 seconds.
Henderson and fellow senior Kirk Bado, who finished seventh (15:58.4) also ran for Cougars’ 2010 state championship team.
Junior Connor McDonald, who finished 12th (16:20.2), senior Collin Weems, who was 15th (16:22.2), and senior Lucas Verschelden, who snagged 27th (16:37.5), rounded out the scorers for SM Northwest.
“There are a lot of filled-up trophy cases at (SM) Northwest, and we’re proud of each and every one,” Henderson said.
Johnson County area runners also snagged the top three spots in the 6A boys race, led by Blue Valley senior Colton Donahue, who finished first in 15:22.4 and won by 19 seconds.
“Winning state as a senior is a great feeling and being No. 1 in Kansas is a great feeling,” Donahue said. “I’ve trained really hard for this and prepared really well for this, so it’s an awesome way to cap my season with a great ending.”
Donahue, who was the Bob Timmons Award winner (think Simone or DiRenna Awards) as the fastest runner from the state meets at Rim Rock, was followed across the line by BV Northwest junior Sam Guinn and BV West sophomore Stuart McNutt.
SM West senior Ryan Cooney finished 20th (16:26.1) and snagged the final medal in the field, but, more importantly, he led the Vikings to a third-place team finish and the final trophy awarded.
Finally, SM North senior Jason Foster placed 14th (16:22.0).
- Every runner for the St. Thomas Aquinas girls finished in the top 22 at the 5A state meet, including six medalists as the Saints claimed first for the fourth time in the last seven seasons.
“This is the best feeling ever in the world,” said junior Bailee Cofer, who led the way with a fourth-place finish (15:24.7). “It’s awesome. It feels good to take that trophy back home where it belongs. It’s my first year winning state, because my freshman and sophomore years we got second. It feels so much better now that we’ve won.”
It wasn’t the first title for seniors Jennifer Angles (seventh, 15:32.8), Maddie Hopfinger (12th, 15:41.4), Rachel Mahon (19th, 15:54.7), Elizabeth Romme (20th, 15:57.5) and Libby Reazin (22nd, 16:01.3) and may not be the last for sophomore Emily Downey (10th (15:39.3).
“There’s no better way to end the season than to send those seniors out as champions,” Cofer said.
Of course, Mill Valley proved that it might be a force to be reckoned with in the future too, placing two freshman in the top 10 — sixth-place Amber Akin (15:32.7) and eighth-place Ellie Wilson (15:33.6).
- There was no catching SM West senior Alli Cash in the 6A girls race. She won in 14:02.8 and by a ridiculous margin of 1:07.4.
And while Cash’s Vikings finished third — shy of the state title she’d hoped to win with her team — this wasn’t the end of the road for her.
SM West — including senior Jillian Benson, who snagged sixth (15:13.9) — will race at the Nike Cross National Heartland Regional on Nov. 11 at Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Five other locals runners finished in the medals: BV Northwest sophomore Hannah Holbert (ninth, 15:21.3), SM Northwest senior McKenzie Iverson (12th, 15:32.2), BV North junior Sara Hillring (13th, 15:32.3), SM Northwest senior Katie Nelson (16th, 15:36.4) and SM North senior Micki Krzesinski (19th, 15:42.3).
- Among the 5A boys, Aquinas finished second overall with four medalists.
Senior Nick Boyles led the way for the Saints with a third-place finish (16:07.5), while fellow seniors Jack Luther (ninth, 16:25.2) and Daniel Aiken (12th, 16:26.3) also cracked the top 20, along with junior Matthew Wilderson (10th, 16:25.7).
Finishing fourth as a team, BV Southwest snagged two medals with senior Grant Poje nabbing 20th (16:37.6) and freshman Tristan Eastham claiming eighth (16:22.2).
- Meanwhile, out at Wamego Country Club, De Soto’s boys finished third led by runner-up Angel Vasquez (15:54.7) and freshman Luis Murillo was 14th (16:58.9).
Wildcats sophomore Meredith Wolfe, who placed 11th (15:58.1), was the top local finisher in the 4A girls race, followed by junior teammate Rebekah Burgweger (14th, 16:05.8)
Kansas City Christian senior Eli Alholm, who was 12th (17:21.3), posted the best local finish for the 2A boys, followed by senior teammate Andrew Emanuels (16th, 17:42.4) with Panthers senior Rachel Ash snagging 13th (16:17.6) in the girls race.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.