Joco Sports

High school athletes don’t let rivalry get in way of friendship

Blue Valley Northwest and Blue Valley West are about four miles apart, and there is a fierce rivalry between the two schools in almost every sport. However, two of the schools’ top distance runners haven’t let that rivalry get in the way of friendship.

BV Northwest junior Sam Guinn and BV West sophomore Stuart McNutt are running buddies in the offseason and also friends. They are close competitors in cross country and track.

They finished second and third at the Class 6A state cross country meet last fall in Lawrence. Blue Valley senior Colton Donahue was the individual state champion.

Here in the middle of the track season, they are ranked one and four in 3,200 meters for the state of Kansas, with Guinn first at 9:21.2 and McNutt fourth at 9:27.01.

They are second and sixth in the 1,600 with Guinn second with a best of 4:20.56 and McNutt sixth at 4:22.84.

How did the running partnership come about?

“Going into my freshman year of high school, I ran an AAU meet and made a relay team with some friends of mine, and Sam ended up on the same relay (3200-meter) team,” McNutt said. “After my freshman year, Sam and I realized we had common goals going into the 2012 cross country season.

“We started working out occasionally in the offseason to stay in shape, and our friendship grew from there. It is great to be able to train with someone who is as talented and motivated as Sam. We run together whenever we get the chance.”

Guinn said, “We met up a lot and hammered some long runs together. We not only push each other to run faster, but we are also really good friends.”

Guinn was not a distance runner at Oxford Middle School and had a different path into cross country and track.

He took an online PE course in the summer between his eighth and ninth grade years to free up his schedule so he could pursue an interest in medicine, and he wanted to lose some weight.

“I weighed 185 pounds, which is 35 pounds more than I do now,” he said. “The course required me to log hours on a heart-rate monitor weekly, so I decided to do summer workouts with my school’s cross country team, and then decided I might as well try out for the team.”

McNutt attended Prairie Star Middle School, which feeds into Blue Valley. He was a lacrosse player and wanted to play lacrosse in high school. He knew that BV West had a lacrosse team.

What he didn’t know was that lacrosse is not a high school sport, but a club sport, and students from any of the schools could play on the team. He was faced with a decision between going out for track in the spring or lacrosse.

McNutt had experienced a lot of success during his freshman year of cross country, placing 19th at the Class 6A state meet.

“It was a tough decision to give up lacrosse,” he said.

Their respective coaches are impressed with their top runners.

“His work ethic and dedication to his training both off and during the season is nothing short of impressive,” BV Northwest cross country and track assistant coach Matt LeCount said of Guinn. “He has a competitive drive that is very unique for an athlete his age.”

BV West cross country and track assistant Mike Webb said of McNutt, “No one outworks him in any part of practice. His potential is off the charts.”