By Jimmy Gillispie
BALDWIN CITY, Kan. – With an incredibly tough regional meet coming up next weekend, the Spring Hill School boys cross country team gained some confidence Thursday.
The Broncos tuned up for the Class 5A regional meet by winning the Frontier League meet at the Baldwin City Golf Course. They beat the No. 5 and No. 11 teams in 4A in doing so.
Spring Hill scored 51 points to win the eight-team league meet that came down to a 10-point spread between the first- and third-place teams. Louisburg finished runner-up with 57 points, with Eudora placing third with 61 points.
“We’ve been training for this the whole season,” Spring Hill coach Brent Smitheran said. “We knew we had enough depth to compete the really tough schools in our league. I thought my guys ran great. They ran a smart races and they ran hard. They ran to failure – a couple of kids literally threw up at the end. They gave everything you want as a coach, and we needed it to come out on top against a couple of really good league teams.”
Smitheran knows his Broncos will face a difficult test trying to advance to state. They will compete at the St. James Academy regional, which features the top-five ranked teams in 5A.
The regional meet will be Oct. 23 at the Savior Pastoral Center, located west of the Legends Outlets. The meet will start at 10 a.m.
While the tall task of trying to qualify for state lies ahead of the Broncos, they enjoyed the league victory, which was believed to be the program’s first or the first in a long time.
“We have a brutally tough regional, but we definitely made strides in the right direction,” Smitheran said. “We’ve got a tough challenge ahead, but we proved we’re ready to go for it. The kids are excited to run and we’re excited to see what they can do.”
The top three Spring Hill runners finished in the top seven individually. Freshman Logan Beckman led the Broncos with a fourth-place finish in a time of 17:04.18.
Senior Kael Knittel and freshman Calen George placed sixth and seventh, respectively, running 17:30.69 and 17:36.18. Senior Braden Stillmaker (15th, 18:19.68) and sophomore Aidan Smith (23rd, 18:38.72) rounded out the team’s scoring.
Just a few places behind Smith was freshman Jack Janovich (27th, 18:49.77) and sophomore Ryland O’Hanlon (29th, 18:51.86) for the Broncos.
All five Louisburg runners finished in the top 20. They were Jaden Vohs (4), freshman Jerynce BringsPlenty (8), sophomore Noah Cotter (11), senior Hayden Ross (19) and junior Leo Martin (20).
Meanwhile, Eudora placed four runners in the top 20. Leading the way was sophomore Zach Arnold, who finished runner-up. Behind him were senior Cody Loganbill (9), junior Jonas Staples (12) and sophomore Alex Clobes (17).
Winning the meet was Tonganoxie junior Eli Gilmore. His winning time was 16:35.24. Gilmore has won the meet two years in a row after finishing second as a freshman.