By Jimmy Gillispie
The Kansas Class 6A state championship is over a month away, but the Olathe West girls cross country team made a statement Friday more than 400 miles north of Kansas City.
Olathe West won the Roy Griak Invitational meet Gold division, which featured 45 teams, in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. The Owls scored 172 points, just edging out Middleton (Wisconsin) by six points. The top four teams were separated by only 21 points, but it was the Owls coming away with the victory.
Two year ago, Olathe West made the trek north and placed 37th out of 50 teams. Later that year, the Owls finished second at state.
On Friday, the Owls’ top four runners packed up and finished close together – just 12 seconds and eight spots separating the first and fourth runners. Sophomore Bree Newport led the squad with a 24th-place finish, completing the 5K course in a time of 19:32.6. Right behind her was sophomore Kate Miller, just 0.3 seconds slower in 24th place.
Five spots behind Miller was junior Charis Robinson, who finished in a time of 19:39.8. Junior Paige Baker was the fourth runner, placing 32nd and running 19:44.2. Rounding out the team scoring was freshman Elizabeth Browning, who placed 67th in a field of 397 in a time of 20:18.3.
Olathe North girls
A second KC area school also finished in the top 10 of the girls Gold division. Olathe North placed 10th as a team, led by a pair of top-10 individual finishes.
Sophomore Anjali Hocker Singh placed fourth overall in a time of 18:20.2. She was the first non-senior to cross the finish line.
Five spots behind her was Olathe North senior Kaylee Tobaben. Her time was 18:50.2, three seconds ahead of the next runner. Sophomore Shea Johnson ran a 20:05.8, placing 48th in the race.
Other KC area schools who made the trek north and participated were Shawnee Mission North (24th) and Blue Valley Southwest (37th).
Boys Gold division
Blue Valley Southwest was the top KC area team in the boys Gold division. The Timberwolves placed 9th, thanks to their top three runners finishing in the top 50 individually.
Junior Micah Paschke was the leading Timberwolf, finishing 39th in a time of 17:09.8. Paschke moved up from 116th at the first mile to 63rd at the 3K mark to becoming a top-40 runner at the meet.
Four spots and three seconds behind him was senior Drew Dombrosky, with sophomore Tommy Caul one spot and less than a second behind Dombrosky. Senior Gabe McGee (99) and sophomore Crew Buehler (130) rounded out the team scoring for Blue Valley Southwest.
The Shawnee Mission North boys finished 16th, and were led by sophomore Micah Blomker’s runner-up finish. Blomker was one of the top 10 runners throughout the race, and was only beaten by Minneapolis Southwest sophomore Sam Scott. Blomker’s time was 15:56, which was 11 seconds ahead of third place and seven seconds behind Scott.
Olathe West placed 27th in the boys race. Senior Aidan Reyna was the top Owl, finishing 19th overall in a time of 16:36.