By Jimmy Gillispie
PECULIAR, Mo. — For the first time in school history, the Olathe South boys cross country team will be engraving its name into the KC Classic traveling trophy.
On Saturday, the Falcons won the 41-team meet at Raymore-Peculiar, earning the right to have their name etched into history. The trophy that goes home with the winning team – only to be returned the following year – has the previous winning teams engraved into it.
Olathe South coach Zach Pope was thrilled to see his team accomplish a program first.
“We’re happy to win a race of this quality,” Pope said. “We have bigger goals for the end of the season, but it’s a nice checkpoint. All of the teams in our regional were here, so you can get a pretty good gauge of where you stack up.”
The Falcons scored 107 points, cruising to an easy win over runner-up Olathe East (162) and De Soto (194) in the team race. Blue Springs South (204) and Rockhurst (221) rounded out the top five teams.
Olathe South was led by three runners in the top 15 and two more runners finishing in the 30s. Senior Matthew Tolman was the Falcons’ top finisher, placing 10th in a time of 16:22.5. Junior Tyler Burns (13th, 16:28.6) and senior Rhys Allen (15th, 16:35.4) were the next two Falcons to finish the 5K course.
The final scoring Falcons were juniors Bennett Meoli (35th, 16:56.1) and Cole Burkholder (39th, 16:57.4). The gap between the Falcons’ first and fifth runners was only 35 seconds.
“The boys ran pretty well,” Pope said. “Some ran really well, and some had slightly off races, so it wasn’t our best, but certainly it’s nice to get the win even not running 100 percent. I just like how they compete. They run as a team and they run for each other, so it’s nice to get another run.”
Two Olathe East earned top-25 medals at the meet. Junior Carter Stewart led Olathe East with a fifth-place finish, crossing the finish line in 16:04.7. Senior Luke Jenkins was the second Hawk runner, placing 25th in a time of 16:47.8.
Sophomore Diego Barron (40th, 16:57.5), senior Will Whitehead (43rd, 17:01.7) and junior Ethan Ochana (54th, 17:11.3) rounded out the scoring runners for Olathe East.
Three De Soto runners finished close together to lead the team. They were senior Brady Huggins (19th, 16:41.4), senior Kyle Newberry (24th, 16:47.7) and junior Joshua Fullmer (31st, 16:51.6). The next four Wildcats were separated by 11 seconds from the fourth to the seventh runner.
Blue Springs South was the top Missouri school in the boys race. The Jaguars were led by senior Ryan Ringgenberg (18th, 16:39.6). The other scoring runners were junior Aiden Wahrenbrock (38th, 16:57.3), junior Trystn Hammer (41st, 17:00.9), junior Quintin Falk (52nd, 17:09.7) and sophomore Otto Dreher (60th, 17:16.3).
The boys race was won by Buhler senior Tanner Lindahl. His winning time was 15:52.1. Behind him was Olathe West senior Aidan Reyna (15:58.2) in second and Staley senior Andrew Atkins (16:01.3) in third place.
For many of the Kansas schools it was the first time to have the entire regional competition at the same meet. The regional sites and teams were announced last week before the meet. Find those regionals here.
“Every coach over analyzes results way too much,” Pope said. “This was the first time where we’ve had all nine of our regional teams on the same course on the same day, so I’m sure later on I’ll go overanalyze everything.”