Emma Roth would have liked to have run a faster time, but the Park Hill South senior found herself in unfamiliar territory Saturday.
Way out in front.
Roth had never led a cross country race before, let alone win one. She accomplished both feats in Lee’s Summit North’s annual Solsberg Invitational, where she led almost from start to finish and won the 5-kilometer girls varsity race in 20 minutes, 5.7 seconds.
“I would have liked to have run a faster time, but I’ve never led a race before, so it was kind of hard to push myself,” Roth said. “But I think if I’m leading a race again it will be easier to pace out.”
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Roth more accustomed to being part of the pack, where runners can pace themselves with their teammates or competitors or use them as targets in moving up the field. She was going fast enough to extend her lead – she finished a commanding 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Madelyn Robinson of Lee’s Summit – but she still found it difficult to make herself go faster.
“It was really hard mentally,” Roth said. “I just had to push myself and think like, well, there’s nobody here so I might as well run as hard as I can right now. I know you’re not supposed to do this, but I kept looking behind me.”
This was just the race Park Hill South girls cross country coach Pam Jurgensmeyer hoped Roth would have when she decided to bring the Panthers to the Solsberg Invitational. Jurgensmeyer thought Roth had a good shot of winning and at being off by herself.
“She’s never run alone out in front so it was definitely a good mental and physical workout for her today,” Jurgensmeyer said. “On paper, I’m sure she’s not happy with her time and wished she ran faster, but it was a good first meet for her.”
It was also a good race for Jurgensmeyer’s team, which was missing its No. 2 and No. 3 for medical reasons. Even with two freshman and two sophomores among their top five, the Panthers still managed to finish one point behind Lee’s Summit North in the team race.
“I was just interested to see how our freshmen raced on varsity,” Jurgensmeyer said. “It was good to see them racing together and right there up at the top.”
It was also a good race for Park Hill South’s boys, who placed second behind Lee’s Summit West. Seniors Trey Rouse and Ewan Frick placed second and third, respectively, to lead the Panthers.
Park Hill’s girls, led by Grace Fink’s eighth-place finish, took third. Park Hill’s boys took sixth, with Isaiah Phillips taking 10th.