Before Blue Springs High School sophomore Stephen Mugeche had even crossed the finish line in the Missouri Class 4 cross country state meet last Saturday in Jefferson City, he looked up and saw teammate Simon Belete win the race.
Mugeche said it served as motivation for the final 200 meters on his race — he couldn’t wait to hug his senior teammate. Mugeche crossed the line 13 seconds later in fourth place.
Also, it might serve as inspiration for him for the next couple of years.
Two years ago, as a sophomore, Belete finished 48th at the state meet. It wasn’t until the following year that he earned his first top-five finish.
Mugeche, therefore, seems to be a year ahead of the curve.
“I’ve always gone off his times, trying to beat his past times at every course we go to,” said Mugeche, who ran alongside Belete during training sessions. “My goal for next year is going to be getting a lot better.”
Blue Springs coach Frank Gallick said Belete saw his most improvement between his sophomore and junior seasons, and he hopes for the same from Mugeche.
“He’s benefited a lot from training with Simon,” Gallick said. “Now he knows what it takes to be a state champion. We’ll see what happens, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a little deja vu and have him up on top next year.”
The Lee’s Summit West volleyball team finished runners-up to Lafayette for the second consecutive season in Class 4. A group of three key seniors won’t earn another shot at the state title.
The Titans, which finished 35-6, will lose middle blockers Madi Mosier and Taylor Sandbothe, along with left-handed outside hitter Emilie Abrahamson, from their seven-player rotation.
The losses of Mosier and Sandbothe will be especially tough for the Titans to overcome. Hanaway builds her offensive system around strong middle blockers, and the duo of Mosier and Sandbothe fit neatly into the scheme.
“They adapted really well to that philosophy,” Hanaway said. “When we executed, it was beautiful and very effective.”
It nearly put the Titans over the hump. They were one point away from becoming the first team to defeat Lafayette (Wildwood) in a single set, but Lafayette bounced back to win the match 26-24, 25-19.
Lafayette finished the season 40-0 — with three victories against the Titans — and a perfect 80-0 in sets.
“They’re the best blocking team I’ve ever seen,” Titans coach Lori Hanaway said.
- Pleasant Hill: Three days following Pleasant Hill’s loss in the Class 3 state title match, the disappointment has subsided, coach George Creason said.
Instead, the team looked back on its No. 1 preseason goal — improvement — and checked it off the list.
“Our goal was to improve on last year, when we took fourth place,” Creason said. “When we won our last pool match, the girls were really relieved because they knew we had done that. Even though we didn’t win the championship, we were still happy with second place.”
Pleasant Hill seniors Anna Prewitt and Kindred Wesemann were named as first team all-state selections Monday. Senior Mallory Miller made the all-state second team. Pleasant Hill will also lose senior Shannon Haws, another starter.
“I think our key this year was we returned out entire lineup from last year, so when we got down (to state), every girl on the floor had been there before,” Creason said. “We had the experience and were able to stay calm, so that gave us an advantage.”