WICHITA, Kan. — Hundreds of high school runners will converge on the Wamego Country Club and Rim Rock Farm this weekend for the state championships. Classes 6A, 5A and 3A will run at Rim Rock in Lawrence and 4A, 2A and 1A will be at Wamego.
Below you can find complete previews of each race for this weekend’s championships at both sites.
Boys – The Wichita North (Running) Redskins nicknamed themselves the Fab Four at the beginning of the season. The Redskins have claimed an impressive season for themselves, topped by a Wichita city league championship for the first time since 1967 and a regional championship at Junction City. North’s Tristyn Villa won the race in 16:24, but that was far from the best time on regional Saturday.
The best time from regional Saturday came from the Blue Valley West regional, where Stuart McNutt ran a 15:48. McNutt, a sophomore, will look to run the same time on Saturday at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence. Rim Rock is not only known in the Midwest as one of the most difficult courses in the nation, but it is known nationally as a very difficult course. North scored the lowest team points in the state last Saturday with 28.
Girls – Maize’s Deidra Walker has had a great season so far, but took second with a time of 14:57 at regionals. Manhattan’s Alaina Schroeder won the Junction City regional with 14:45. Maize took first at the meet with 42 points. Olathe East has consistently been a top team in Kansas and looks to achieve its top goal of capturing a state championship Saturday. The most probable girls champion would have to be Alli Cash of Shawnee Mission West, who is the defending state champion.
The Garden City girls of Alex Miller, Kayla Doll and Chelsea Jackson led the Lady Buffaloes to a regional championship. That trio has been one of the most consistent forces in the state of Kansas this year and looks to come off the radar and put itself in the talks for a championships.
Boys – This will be a highly contested race. Gage Garcia for Bishop Carroll has been fighting sinus problems lately, but has been battling friend and teammate James Hampton all year for top times. Garcia won the regional race at Lake Afton in Goddard with a time of 16:31, seven ticks ahead of Hampton. Carroll looks to defend its state title without high school great David Thor.
Liberal is a team that has flown under the radar for much of the season. It took the regional team title from host Great Bend by a mere two points. However, Angel Viveros, Liberal’s top runner, will try to improve his fourth-place finish from 2011. Winfield’s Josh Hanna, the 2011 third-place finisher, is now in 4A and Thor has graduated. Carroll’s Hampton finished second last year, so Viveros will look to overtake him for the championship.
Girls – The Carroll girls were five points away from a perfect 15 in its regional race at Lake Afton. Kaelyn Balch will look to repeat as 5A state champion, but right on her heals will be Valley Center’s Morgan Wedekind, who is improved from a year ago. Top to bottom, Valley Center and Bishop Carroll are on the same level with each other, so it will come down to the top 10-15 runners battling for the higher finish.
Maize South has been a topic of discussion in 2012. The Lady Mavericks took second place by just three points at the Great Bend regional to Valley Center. Maize South is led by Mady Nestor, a runner that took second place at regionals, six seconds ahead of third place Kalee Owens of Valley Center. Maize South is a team that, much like Garden City, will force itself into the competition for a title on Saturday.
Boys – The Wamego boys’ team dominated the competition in 2011 with 54 points, a full 59 points ahead of second-place Hugoton. It will look to repeat the same success on Saturday, but it will be tough for the defending champions. Individual champion Angel Vasquez of DeSoto ran a 15:32 at the regional meet in Bonner Springs. Vasquez is expected to repeat.
Challenging him will be Andale’s Jacob Wallace, Winfield’s Josh Hanna and Wamego’s Jordan Routh and Colton Butler. Wallace took home fourth-place honors at the 2011 meet. Baldwin’s Ethan Hartzell took second at the 2011 state meet behind Vasquez, so this will be a great race between some great runners at the Wamego Country Club. Hanna took third in 5A in 2011, so it will be fun to watch him race for a championship on a new course in a new class. Hanna will also be pushed by friend and fierce competitor Ren Bean of Mulvane. Hanna beat Bean at the Carroll regional at Lake Afton.
Girls – With Pratt’s Cheyenne Becker now out of high school, this race is now up for grabs. Hesston’s Mikala Heddin and Ft. Scott’s Katren Rienbolt took second and third place, respectively, behind Becker in 2011. Rienbolt won her regional with a time of 15:32, while Heddin finished third with a time of 16:04 in her regional behind Pratt’s Kaylah Romine and Ulysses’ Chisholm Branscum.
Boys – This race came down to the wire in 2011, where the top four runners finished within nine seconds of each other. On top was Salina Sacred Heart’s Cory Donley. It was basically a re-run of the 2011 state championship at the Southeast of Saline regional. Hutchinson Trinity’s Cordell Goering, Marion’s Jordan Hett and Donley were all in that top four finish in 2011. Those three were the top three finishers at the regional Saturday, so these runners got a good taste for the competition a week early, which provides and huge advantage heading into the state meet.
Girls – Douglass has been one of the top teams in the state for a while now, but Hillsboro’s Emily Sechrist looks to tame the Lady Bulldogs yet again Saturday at Rim Rock. Sechrist is the defending state champion, and had the adavantage of running at Rim Rock earlier this season. She said at that meet she was running with more confidence in 2012 than she was in 2011. Douglass’ Klair Gibson beat teammate Suzie Wright by one second. Also in talks for the state championship is Osage City’s Aundrea Koger, a runner that has potential (and probably will) give Sechrist and the Douglass girls some major problems. Keep your eyes peeled for Bluestem’s Brenda McCollum, who beat the Douglass girls at the CPL championships.
Boys – The top three finishers in the 2011 state race were seniors. So the 2012 race will feature almost all new runners competing for the top spot. Oxford’s Mark Sutton has been making noise all season, and that didn’t change with his 17:16 finish at the Meade regional meet. He beat 2011 state fourth-place finisher Raul Pantoja by 52 seconds. KC Christian’s Eli Alholm ran a 17:14 at his regional meet, so this race will feature these top runners competing for a state championship.
Republic County’s Trenton Kuhlman and Washington County’s Dylan Hodgson were separated by just two-tenths of a second at the Washington Co. regional meet. Kuhlman came out on top in 17:26.63. Look for these two runners to make some noise in this race as well.
Girls – Lincoln’s Jenna Farris looks to finish her high school cross country career on a winning note at the state meet. If she wins Saturday, it will be her third consecutive state championship. She won Saturday’s regional in 15:45, a half-minute over her next closest competitor Jenna Snell of Ellinwood. Snell will attempt to dethrone the Lincoln harrier in Wamego on Saturday.
Kayle Bogina of Arma-Northeast ran a 15:13 in Burlington last Saturday, 20 second ahead of Lawrence-Bishop Seabury’s Kate Albrecht. Many presume this race is yet again a lock for Farris, but challengers’ times tell a different story.
Boys – Lukas Koch of Centralia and Pike Valley’s Caden Callaway were the second and third place finishers in the 2011, respectively. The two faced off last Saturday at the Riley County regional, and Koch came out on top in a time of 16:35, 23 seconds ahead of Callaway, who finished in 16:58. This was a preview race for the state championship at Wamego. Also in the mix will be Greeley County’s Troy Wineinger, who finished in fifth place at last year’s state meet.
Girls – This race will come down much like the 2011 race did, between defending champion Audrey Schmitz of Axtell and Osborne’s Eilieen Mick. Schmitz ran a 16:09 at regionals and Mick finished in 16:22. Dexter’s Kyley Drake will force her hand at the state meet against these two, as she will definitely push to be the top runner in 1A.