Lee’s Summit West junior Kennadee Williams heard others project her cross country team’s fall season to be a rare rebuilding year.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
The Titans, winners of five straight state championships, were set to see their grasp of the Class 4 cross country scene slip away. Or so they were told.
Not so fast.
Lee’s Summit West completed its second straight meet championship — this one at the Class 4, Sectional 4 meet Saturday at Raymore-Peculiar — and will take plenty of momentum heading into next week’s familiar state championship meet at Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City.
Williams won the girls race Saturday, lifting Lee’s Summit West to a team score of 39, six better than St. Teresa’s Academy, which was led by a second-place finish from Courtney Coppinger.
“Everyone expects us to be No. 1 all year, and if we aren’t, it’s, ‘What’s going on with Lee’s Summit West?’” Williams said. “When rankings came out this year, we had people tell us we’re not doing well anymore.”
The Titans aren’t hearing many doubters now.
Neither is the Blue Springs boys cross country team, which is gunning for a rare feat. This year’s squad is attempting to become the first one in school history to win the conference, district, sectional and state titles.
Three down, one to go.
Blue Springs senior Simon Belete and sophomore Stephen Mugeche took first and second, respectively, in the Class 4 boys sectional race Saturday and ran the Wildcats to a team victory. St. Joseph Central took second, followed by Rockhurst. Belete and Mugeche finished the same way a week ago in the Class 4, District 7 race.
“We’re trying to build some momentum for state, but we really wanted to be sectional champions, too,” said Belete, who finished in 15 minutes, 29 seconds. “It gives me a lot of confidence because this is a great sectional. If I’m able to come out on top here, I have a chance at the state meet.”
Class 3 sectionals
Fellow senior Micah Palmer of Raytown South will take a little confidence into next week, as well, after winning the Class 3, District 7 race Saturday at Raymore-Peculiar.
Raytown South dropped from Class 4 to Class 3 this season, and Palmer has seen the benefit. A year after taking 74th at the state meet, a victory Saturday has him thinking about a potential top-10 finish next week in Jefferson City.
Pembroke Hill occupied six of the top 14 spots and won the boys team title.
Notre Dame de Sion won the girls race, helped by Julie Steilen’s 12-second victory over Haley Dietsch of Pembroke Hill, which finished second.
“We went back and forth the whole way through,” Steilen said. “She started dying a little bit at the end, so I knew I had it.”