Missouri state high school meets are scheduled on Saturday in cross country and boys swimming and diving. Here are some storylines to watch regarding 816 area teams:
Boys cross country
1. Blue Springs senior Stephen Mugeche can claim a third straight top-four finish in the Class 4 meet, but he's aiming for a little better than that.
Mugeche is seen as one of the favorites to compete for the state championship. He placed second last season, when he recorded the third best time in state history after he crossed the finish line in 15 minutes, 34.43 seconds.
That time would likely be good enough to win this season, but there's certainly some strong competition for Mugeche. Including...
2. If any team brings back hardware from the Class 4 race, it will likely be either Rockhurst or Liberty.
Rockhurst won the Class 4, Sectional 4 race last week by two points over second-place Liberty, which took fourth as a team last season.
Both teams rely on depth for quality showings.
Rockhurst runners William Thompson and John Luder figure to be favorites to compete for all-state honors.
Liberty senior Matt Alvey, who missed all-state by one place last season, is a candidate for a top-10 finish.
Blue Springs and Park Hill South will take their full teams to the Class 4 meet, as well.
3. A week after blitzing the field in the Class 3, District 7 race, Pembroke Hill junior Evan Peterson will look to capitalize on his recent success at the state meet.
Peterson finished 37 seconds ahead of second-place Danny Meyers from O'Hara in the sectional race Saturday. He finished 16th at the Class 3 state meet last season but seems primed for a better showing this weekend.
Pembroke Hill, Smithville and Grain Valley will take their full teams to the Class 3 meet.
Girls cross country
1. There's little doubt that Eureka senior Hannah Long is the runner to beat in Missouri Class 4. She has won back-to-back titles already, including a 34-second victory last fall.
But there is a strong contingent of area runners who will be in the mix for spots among the top-five.
St. Teresa's senior Ann Campbell, the reigning All-Metro runner of the year, headlines that list. She won the Class 4, Sectional 4 race last week and placed fifth at the state meet last year.
2. Blue Springs South and Raymore-Peculiar hope to compete for the Class 4 team title, with Kearney not lagging far behind.
Blue Springs South not only qualified for the state meet for the first time since 1995, it won the sectional title, with Grace Klausen, Tori Findley and Ashton Henson placing second, third and fourth, respectively. The Jaguars are hoping that trio can all finish among the first 15 runners Saturday.
Raymore-Peculiar's top-five lineup of Jamie Wharton, Kiley Deain, Breanna Birkett, Kami Tabor and Brooke Birkett doesn't include a single senior.
Lee's Summit North also qualified its full squad.
3. There wasn't much noise made from Kansas City runners in the Missouri Class 3 race last year.
That could change this year.
O’Hara freshman Caroline Meyers won the Class 3, District 7 race in 19 minutes, 18.13 seconds and could battle for a top-five finish Saturday. Pembroke Hill freshmen Julia Rosher and Emma Knopik are two more names to watch from the district.
Pembroke Hill, Smithville and Grain Valley qualified their full teams for the Class 3 state race.
4. Lutheran sophomore Haley Schroeder is aiming for a second straight top-10 finish in the Class 1 race. Schroeder finished third in the Class 1, District 7 race over the weekend. Lone Jack qualified its full team for the Class 1 event.
Boys swimming and diving
1. The Missouri high school swimming state championship starts — and usually ends — with the Rockhurst Hawklets.
The Hawklets are the 10-time defending state champions heading into the weekend. There's little reason to pick any other team to prevail Saturday.
Rockhurst junior David Knopke has won two straight one-meter diving state titles. Senior Alex Albracht is ranked first in both the 200-yard freestyle and 100 breaststroke. He took second place in the breaststroke event last season.
Junior AJ Iseman was fifth in both the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly last season. Sophmore Collin Nill is ranked third in the 500 freestyle. He finished in the same place in the event last season.
To no surprise, the Hawklets are also strong in the relays. They have recorded the best times in the state this season in the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle.
2. Lee's Summit North senior Michael Hynes established himself last season as one of the best freestyle swimmers in the state — no matter the distance.
That has rung true in 2014, too.
Hynes is ranked among the top-eight in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free and 500 free. His best shot at winning a state championship will likely come in the 100 free, where he placed sixth last season. Hynes is capable of breaking 47 seconds in the race.
3. Kansas City area schools accounted for six of the top 11 showings at the state meet last season — with Rockhurst, Blue Springs South and Lee's Summit North occupying the top three spots.
Blue Springs South has performed admirably in the relays, and that strategy paid dividends again on Oct. 25 when it captured the Suburban Gold Conference championship.
4. Lee’s Summit sophomore Sam Drew will look to cap an impressive season with medals in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley. He is seeded in the top-five in both events.
Lee's Summit North junior Josh Littell is a contender for a medal in the 100 butterfly, as is Staley senior Daniel Maynard in the 100 breaststroke.