Lee’s Summit West and Raymore-Peculiar belong to the same conference, so they’re already rivals in most sports. In girls cross country, that rivalry has gotten a little more intense.
West’s girls are ranked No. 1 in the state; Ray-Pec’s are No. 2. And when they find themselves in the same race, as they will six times this season and did last Saturday in the Raymore-Peculiar Invitational, the Titans and the Panthers admit that they run just a little harder.
“Every time they come to our meets it’s just always like so competitive,” Ray-Pec junior Miranda Dick said. “It just changes the whole atmosphere.”
West came out on top in the team standings, just as they have the previous two times they’ve already raced this season. West scored 46 points to top the 16-team Large Schools Division in the 30-team meet, and the Panthers followed with 70. They’ve been one-two in every meet, and Titans coach Jesse Griffin expects the two teams to be at each other’s heels all the way to the Class 4 state meet.
“We have a lot of respect for them,” Griffin said. “They are very well coached; they’re a good team. We have the Lee’s Summit schools, but for our sport it’s probably one of the bigger rivals that we have developed.”
West succeeds with a pack mentality, and in this race the Titans had four of the top 10 finishers on the flat but winding 5-kilometer Ray-Pec course. Maddie Hulsey, McKenna Butler and Addie Mathis finished fifth through seventh and Riley Lourens came in at No. 10. Jana Shawver’s 18th-place finish rounded out the Titans’ team score.
“We wanted to be able to show what we can do out here,” said Hulsey, who finished in 19 minutes, 39.8 seconds. “We wanted to all be like in the top-20ish and finish together and we were able to do that.”
That pack helped West overcome the second-third finish of Ray-Pec’s Dick and Makenzie Stucker. Dick and Liberty junior Madelynn Hill were neck and neck most of the race until Hill pulled away just before the finish to win in 18:33.30. Dick came in at 18:40.70 and Stucker followed her at 19:18.10.
“It’s about what I was expecting,” Griffin said. “The girl that won from Liberty could win the state meet. She’s very good. (Dick) is probably top five. They’re both very, very good in our state. Sometimes it gets lost in there how good our competition is.”
Ray-Pec girls coach Jay Johnson can tell the Panthers get a little more intense and excited when West is in the field. That excitement, however, is lost on Johnson for the time being.
“For me, I (couldn’t) care less about West,” Johnson said. “We’re concentrating on our girls getting better, week by week by week. And then in November in the big races and the state meet, we’ll see how things go on that day.”
Ray-Pec placed fifth in the Large School Division boys standings with 144 points. The Panthers had Marlon Williams, Jaren Jones and Braden Zaner finish 19th, 21st and 22nd.
Belton had Bailee Strickland finish 22nd in the girls race and Kory Snyder 20th in the boys race.
Pleasant Hill edged out Helias Catholic 36-39 for the boys Small School Division title. Jared Rottinghaus, Desmond Ewing, Shawn Gallagher and Landon Fatino placed fifth through eighth among the small-school runners for the Roosters, and Evan Jacobs was 10th.
Aubrey Scott of Pleasant Hill was second among girls small school runners and led the Chicks to a second-place finish. Jacey Faust was eighth, Jadyn Dowdy 20th, Ashtyn Dickens 22nd and Rachel Denney 27th in team scoring for the Chicks.
Kaylee Harp of Harrisonville finished eighth in the Small School girls race.