Free State boys, Olathe West girls win Baldwin Invite

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. – In between the star-studded fields at the Olathe Twilight and Rim Rock meets, the Baldwin Invitational could be considered a smaller meet.

But, it’s only small in terms of quantity. Although there were only about a dozen teams at the Baldwin City Golf Course – now named the Spielman Cross Country Course – the quality of runners was quite high with some of the best from the Kansas City and Topeka areas.

The boys race was a battle, but in the end it was Free State who left with the victory. The Firebirds won with 70 points. Olathe East and Shawnee Mission East tied for second with 86 points, but Olathe East won the tiebreaker with its sixth runner finishing five spots ahead of the SM East’s sixth runner.

Blake Wohler and Jake Loos led the Firebirds. They finished sixth and seventh, respectively, less than a second apart. They each ran 16:40 to pace the Firebirds.

Zach Hansen Terry and Ryan Whittlesey were the next two Free State runners to cross the finish line. They placed 12th and 14th, respectively. The final scoring Firebird was Cristian Wills, who finished 43rd.

A pair of top-10 finishes also led Olathe East. Carter Stewart spent much of the race in the top two, but fell to eighth place. One spot behind him was his teammate Diego Barron. The other three scoring Hawks were Ethan Ochana (21), Caleb Thompson (26) and Evan Thompson (34).

SM East had two of the top three runners in the boys race. Blair Ptacek and Caden Peters placed second and third, respectively. Rounding out the SM East top five were Evan Whittington, William Norris (37) and Greyson Imm (38). 

Topeka West’s Lenny Njoroge won the boys race in a time of 15:52.87. He won by 38 seconds over the runner-up. Other top 10 runners from the KC area were Andrew Hartegan (4) of St. James Academy and Gunnar Hornung (5) of Olathe West.

It was Olathe West which once again dominated another meet. The two-time defending Class 6A state champs were a bit shorthanded, but most wouldn’t have known as they scored 38 team points – beating runner-up St. James by 60 points. 

The top four Owls finished in the top eight of the race. This meet belonged to Bree Newport, who won the 5K race in a time of 18:59.65. Newport came through the two mile mark in fifth place, but closed the final 1.1 miles in style and won by seven seconds.

Charis Robinson (3), Paige Baker (5) and Kate Miller (8) also finished in the top 10 for Olathe West. Kalyn Willingham rounded out the top five with a 21st-place finish.

St. James’ top runner was Quinn Hays. She finished 14th overall. Also scoring for the Thunder were Katelyn Menghini (19), Allie Morfeld (20), Katie Price (22) and Annie Wilken (23).

Lida Padgett finished runner-up in the race to lead the SM East girls team. Washburn Rural’s Payton Fink placed fourth in the race. The other top 10 runners were Charlotte Caldwell (6) of Mill Valley, Scarlett Pearlman (7) of SM East, Ryin Miller (9) of Seaman and Brylee Burns (10) of Free State.

Many teams will be traveling to Lawrence next weekend to compete at the Rim Rock Classic. 

– story by Jimmy Gillispie

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