The first meet since winning their first-ever state championship, the Blue Springs South girls cross country team found itself on top of the standings last week.
The Jaguars returned a solid group from last year’s squad, but lost their top runner. Yet, they prevailed in a close team’s race at the Tim Nixon Invitational in Liberty.
Blue Springs South scored 75 points, holding off crosstown rival Blue Springs by four points for the title. Mill Valley (113), St. Teresa’s Academy (131) and Liberty (142) rounded out the top five girls teams.
The Jaguars placed four runners in the top 20, led by senior Caitlin Grover’s sixth-place finish in a time of 19:23.4. Three placed behind Grover was junior Emmerson Allen, who crossed the finish line in 19:38. Senior Magdalene Boley (14) and sophomore Ella Rew (17) were the next Jaguars to cross the finish line. Senior Paige Thielen (32) rounded out the team’s scoring.
Blue Springs narrowly lost the team race, but it had the top individual runner. Junior Abigail Brackenbury won the gold division 5K race, in a time of 18:57.3. Brackenbury finished 38th at state last year, running 24 second slower than she ran to begin her junior campaign.
Two spots behind her last week was senior Kyla Weems. Her time was 19:08 – nearly a minute faster than her time at last year’s state meet. Rounding out the Wildcats’ top five were junior Faith Fotiades (22), sophomore Paige Stuart (26) and junior Ava Power (30).
Finishing runner-up in the race was Washburn Rural sophomore Payton Fink. She ran the second-fastest time of her career.
St. Teresa junior Gracie Jacobs placed fourth overall to lead the Stars, who are coming off a state runner-up finish a year ago. Mill Valley sophomore Charlotte Caldwell finished fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Olathe North junior Shea Johnson (7), Park Hill South freshman Madilynn Conklin (8) and Liberty senior Britta Foust (10).