Being a senior, Ben Burnett of Lee’s Summit West has raced cross country long enough to know the temptation and consequences of starting out too fast.
Burnett yielded to that temptation Saturday, but not enough to suffer the consequences.
After getting pushed a bit following a fast first mile, Burnett then pushed away from the rest of the field and finished first in the boys varsity race in the annual Solsberg Invitational hosted by Lee’s Summit North at Lake Jacomo. Burnett covered the hilly 5-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 44.1 seconds and led the Titans to the boys team championship.
Burnett raced to the front of the field early, but about a mile into the race he feared he might have used too much energy as the pack closed in on him. His once comfortable lead became a little less comfortable.
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“I was trying not to kill myself on the first mile, but it just happens during a race,” Burnett said. “I think the adrenalin just got to me.
“When you’re out there with another guy right next to you it’s kind of like who’s going to break first? And you’ve just got to be the one who doesn’t break first and move past that man.”
Burnett was able to maintain and expand his lead, and by the time he hit the finish line he was more than 18 seconds ahead of runner-up Trey Rouse of Park Hill South. His finishing time was almost a full-minute better than his previous best at Jacomo, an indication, West boys cross country coach Michael Shortino said, that Burnett is on a mission this year.
“He hung in there and gapped everybody,” Shortino said. “He won by a lot, so that’s’ good for him. The fact that he could do that and gap those guys in the last half of the race, that’s the most important thing.”
Burnett, who medaled at last year’s Class 4 state meet with a 13th-place finish, led a Titans squad that placed all five runners in the top 15 and beat runner-up Park Hill South 39-49. Senior Alex Geohagen and junior Jimmy Dietrich placed fifth and sixth behind Burnett for the Titans, sophomore Will Cantrill was 12th and freshman Jake Schlicht was 15th.
“We have some potential,” Shortino said. “We have to put some things together, like teams do. It’s good to get the first meet under our belt and a win. We’ll improve.”
Lee’s Summit North took the girls team title, edging Park Hill South 33-34. Junior Madelyn Robinson led the Broncos with a second-place finish in 20:25.1. Emma Roth of Park Hill South raced ahead of the field early and won going away at 20:05.7.
“I started out strong,” Robinson said. “My goal was to stay with the front pack and when she went out there, I was hoping to stay within 200 meters of her and speed up at the end. That didn’t work out, but that was only thing bad about my race.”
North placed four of its top five runners in the top 10. Sophomore Annie McCord, senior Sam Simpson and junior Katie Wehrwein took fifth through seventh, and sophomore Sydney Allen took 13th.
North’s boys took third with 80 points. Seniors Matt Reis and Drew Reis placed seventh and eighth to lead the Broncos. Junior Jack Gatti was 19th, senior Cole Dunton 20th and senior Parker Anderson 26th.
Lee’s Summit’s boys finished fifth with 122 points. The Tigers had sophomore Luke Byrne place ninth, junior Damien Cunningham 16th, senior Layne Breneman 18th, junior Connor Murray 31st and senior Shad Morgan 48th.