Were Raymore-Peculiar’s girls determined to send a message at last the Class 4, District 6 cross country meet on Saturday, Oct. 21?
Ray-Pec dominated the meet on its home course with a one-two-three finish that put them 17 points ahead of runner-up Lee’s Summit West. It certainly turned some heads and made the Panthers the team to beat at this weekend’s sectional meet Saturday, Oct. 28, at Camdenton.
“I feel like a lot of people ... rank us pretty low, and we’ve always been like the underdogs,” Ray-Pec junior Miranda Dick said. “We wanted to prove that we can win. That’s our goal, and that’s what we did today.”
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Ray-Pec racked up a few victories before districts, including the Suburban Gold Conference title Oct. 7 at Lake Jacomo. Individually, however, the Panthers didn’t stack up well in many of the online rankings.
The problem, Ray-Pec coach Jay Johnson said, was that many of the faster times listed were run on courses shorter than the standard 5 kilometers.
That’s why Johnson thought the Panthers were motivated to shine individually and collectively.
“All of our courses are the full length, so our times are a little slower,” Johnson said. “They are sending a message with the times they’re kicking out on legit courses.”
Dick covered Ray-Pece’s winding (and legitimately 5K) course in 18 minutes, 51.96 seconds — a legitimately solid time.
Makenzie Stucker, who led most of the way until Dick caught her just before the finishing line, placed second in 18:54.56 with Marissa Dick claiming third in 19:41.82.
Marissa Dick’s time was her best this season, while sophomore Gracyn Kloth, the Panthers’ No. 5 runner, shaved 30 seconds off her personal best for the Panthers’ fourth-best time. Kloth finished ninth overall.
“We wanted to get that so bad because then we would ensure first place,” Miranda Dick said of Ray-Pec’s top-three sweep. “And everybody else ran so well today.”
Ray-Pec ran well enough to score 27 team points, well ahead of runner-up Lee’s Summit West’s 42 and well within the top-four teams to qualify for sectionals. The top 30 individuals also qualified.
At the sectional meet, the top four teams and top 30 runners not on a state-qualfying team advance to the Class 4 state meet Nov. 4 at Ha Ha Tonka State Park on the Lake of the Ozarks at the Oak Hill Golf Course in Jefferson City.
All eyes will be on the Panthers as they try to return to state, where they placed seventh last season, though Johnson would rather not have the attention.
“We really don’t want their eyes open,” Johnson said. “We just want to go in and do what we did today and just be consistent week by week.”
Ray-Pec’s boys team also qualified for sectionals with a fourth-place finish behind Lee’s Summit West, Webb City and Joplin.
Sophomore Braden Zander placed eighth to lead the Panthers.
Belton’s boys had two sectional qualifiers — Kory Sndyer, who finished 16th, and Mason Funk, who was 28th.