El Dorado, Kan. — Ren Bean didn’t pause to gasp for air after winning the Circle Invitational boys five-kilometer race Thursday afternoon. Actually, he didn't pause at all. He started walking briskly right after crossing the finish line, and didn’t break stride until a coach stopped to congratulate him about five minutes later.
“I was very unhappy,” Bean said.
The Mulvane senior finished with a time of 16:21, nearly a minute ahead of the runner-up, Rose Hill’s Kenton Weber (17:13) but wasn’t in much of a mood to be congratulated. His goal was to beat 16 minutes - if not his personal record of 15:18, which he set earlier this season at Berean Academy (although Bean said he suspects that course was short of an actual 5K).
Regardless, a new PR wasn’t happening on Thursday. The course at Wartick Ranch was a little too rugged and the wind was a little too strong to set any speed records.
“I really didn’t do what I wanted to do, but not every day’s a good day,” Bean said. “I guess next week I’ll just have to take my anger out in the league meet.”
That will be Oct. 11, at Rose Hill. Look for Mulvane to be the favorite – the Wildcats placed five runners in the top eight Thursday and easily ran away with the team title over second-place Valley Center and third-place Wichita Trinity.
It’s been quite a senior year for Bean, who attended Wellington as a freshman and sophomore. He represented Wellington at the state meet both years, but the Crusaders never had enough runners to field a team.
“It got to where it was more work than fun,” Bean said. “I was just looking for more of a team aspect.”
Bean admits he transferred to Mulvane strictly for cross country purposes – even though he knew he would be ineligible to compete as a junior under Kansas State High School Activity Association rules.
“It was a hard decision, but I wouldn’t change anything,” Bean said. “I have a blast with this team. We have a great time just hanging out. We’re all best friends outside of cross country, too. It was definitely worth it.”
Bean is being recruited by a couple of NCAA Division II programs in Colorado and said he’d like to run at the highest level possible in college, possibly at the University of Kansas. He’s got a couple other meet victories this season – but considers them all “practice” and “workouts” until the postseason.
Thursday, he led the pack from the opening minute and shook off Weber early in the race.
“In the bigger races I tend to not push so hard at the beginning,” Bean said. “I didn’t know if there’d be anymore here who would push me at all. So I decided to go for it and get a good time. And it turned out to be an OK workout.”
Bean had run the course twice before in his career and knew what to expect.
“It’s not a bad course,” Bean said. “It is kind of uneven in places …. I’d really like to speed up and accelerate on this straightaway but the ground is kind of rough and you’re worried more about balance and you’re focusing your energy on that. It’s not the type of course you set a PR in.”
Still, Bean said he was disgusted when he realized he wasn’t going to break the 16-minute barrier.
“I could have run harder,” he said, “and I don’t know why I didn’t.”
On the girls’ side, Valley Center’s Morgan Wedekind continued her perfect season, finishing first in every race so far. She had a time of 14:52 and is still trying to beat the PR of 14:29 she set last season. She gave it her best Thursday, finishing strong down the stretch to outdistance Andover’s Elise Larson (second, 15:19) and Valley Center teammate Kalee Owens (third, 15:32).
“I just wanted to see what I could do and work on my kick,” Wedekind said. “I’d give myself a B-plus. Not my best, but I’ll take it.”
Valley Center’s girls won the team title. Wichita Trinity was second and Rose Hill was third.