By Jimmy Gillispie
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – In one of the two regionals hosted at the Johnson County Community College course Saturday, the same three schools qualified for the boys and girls state meet.
Meanwhile, six different schools sent teams to next week’s state meet from the other regional. Regardless, it was a meet packed with some of the best talent in Kansas, including many of the ranked Class 6A teams.
The meet hosted by Shawnee Mission Northwest was dominated by three other Shawnee Mission schools. SM North won the boys and girls regional titles, while SM East and SM South qualified their teams for the state meet in Augusta.
In the boys race, SM North placed all five of its scoring runners in the top 15. SM North scored 46 points, just beating out SM East by seven points. SM South scored 78 to secure the final state bid from the regional.
“Our boys ran really tired, and we didn’t have our full team last week, so coming off of that, I was a little shaky about whether or not we would bounce back,” SM North coach Aaron Davidson said. “We needed a good bounce back meet, and we’ve had a good season on the boys side and won some meets, but we got smacked pretty good last week. To see them come back and have some pop in their legs today was huge for us to let us know we’re still in this and right on track.”
The No. 2-ranked Bison were led by sophomore Micah Blomker. He ran sept for step for SM East junior Wyatt Haughton until Blomker broke apart and took control of the race before finishing the 5K course in 15:23.31.
“Micah was tired last week, so we pulled back this week and cut their intensity and volume down,” Davidson said. “It’s postseason, so now it’s time to go race and win. Last week, we kind of trained through it. But, he showed that he’s still right there in the mix as a top contender. It was a good race for him.”
The second Bison runner finished more than 90 seconds behind Blomker, but the team’s second through fifth runners finished within a 35-second period. The first was senior Adam Ducey (8th, 16:56.94), and he was followed by sophomore Diego Rojas-Vazquez (10th, 16:58.5), senior Major Ewers (13th, 17:17.48) and senior Owen Dooley (15th, 17:31.99).
SM East was led by Haughton, who’s runner-up time was 15:49.49. He finished 23 seconds ahead of the next runner – SM Northwest junior Henry Born. SM East junior Caden Peters placed fifth as the second Lancer across the finish line.
The next three Lancers to finish were junior Ben Rodriguez (12th, 17:14.75), senior Zach Venneman (14th, 17:25.05) and junior Evan Whittington (20th, 17:43.64). SM East is ranked No. 8 in the latest coaches poll.
Unranked SM South advanced to state for the second-straight year. The Raiders’ five scoring runners were senior Lloyd Dodson (6th, 16:35.82), senior Finnegan Wilson (10th, 17:03.33), senior Ryan Owens (17th, 17:35.24), senior Will Kirsch (22nd, 17:47.65) and junior Connor Monks (23rd, 17:49.11).
The 6A boys race is slated to start at 10:40 a.m. Saturday at the 4 Mile Creek Resort in Augusta.
The difference between the first- and fourth-place teams in the girls race of the regional was just 28 points. Unfortunately for meet host SMNW, it was on the wrong side of the qualifying teams.
SMNW finished five points behind SM East, which placed third in the standings with 79 points. SM North won with 56, while SM South finished runner-up with 60 points.
SM North’s top runner was senior Josie Tyrrell, who placed fourth overall. Her 5K time was 19:41.08. The Bison’s next four finishers were senior Chloe Belgum (6th, 20:01.19), senior Brenna Murphy (8th, 20:08.26), junior Elise Dummermuth (10th, 20:22.41) and senior Krystal Montoya (28th, 21:35.93).
“I was really proud of our girls,” Davidson said. “We thought we had a chance to win, but when you have a group of girls that haven’t done it before, they are cautiously optimistic going in. They were excited to win, but I was proud of them for actually executing and doing what we thought we could do. It’s one thing to think you can do it, but another to do it. It was fun to see them do it.”
SM South was nip and tuck with the Bison, but just finished a few points behind. The Raiders’ first runner was junior Hannah Gibson, who placed third in a time of 19:07.34. Senior Haley Carter finished four spots behind Gibson, running the course in 20:03.13.
Raiders sophomore Eve Snyder and senior Molly Wright finished less than a second apart to place 12th and 13th, respectively. Freshman Caroline Swift was the Raiders’ final scoring runner, placing 25th.
SM East clinched the final team spot, thanks to junior Grace Meyer winning the race. She pulled away from SMNW junior Paige Mullen late in the race before crossing the finish line in a time of 18:31.3. Two minutes behind her was the Lancers’ second runner – junior Jade Achen – finishing 11th.
The Lancers’ final three scoring runners were junior Lida Padgett (17th, 20:59.02), sophomore Lauren Gahagan (23rd, 21:15.81) and freshman Adelaide Ecton (27th, 21:27.1).
The 6A girls race is slated to start at noon Saturday at the 4 Mile Creek Resort in Augusta.