Finishing fast is important in cross country, and the same can be said of finishing together.
No St. James Academy runner cracked the top 10 in the girls’ Gold Division race at Saturday’s Rim Rock High School Cross Country Classic. Carlie Yunger finished 17th with a time of 19:42. But that didn’t stop the Thunder from winning the top division, ahead of Blue Springs South. St. Thomas Aquinas finished fourth.
The Rim Rock Classic field features schools from at least six states. St. James aced this midterm, and is ready for its state-meet test.
“We knew we had a lot stronger of a team than last year,” Yunger said. “We have some really good freshmen, and we’ve just been working hard. We expected to do well at this meet, but first is a shock. We’re really happy with that. I think (state) is definitely one of our goals, something that we’re working toward.”
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Blue Springs South junior Victoria Findley finished second in the Gold Division at 18:19, behind Lawrence Free State standout Emily Venters.
“I knew my plan was to get out and get to the front. I think I did that really well,” Findley said.
Findley said Venters passed her near the two-mile mark. She made sure no other runner was able to do so.
“I think it’s my PR this season, which I was happy about. 18:19 on this course is awesome for me.”
Blue Valley North was paced by Lily Strauss, who finished third at 18:57 and set a personal best by four seconds.
“When I passed the first hill, I realized the downhills were a huge advantage. That’s when I knew I could finish the race strong.”
In the boys’ Gold Division race, nobody could catch Blue Springs’ Victor Mugeche. His time of 15:37 — on a steamy morning, no less — turned plenty of heads. The Wildcats finished third as a team.
“This is one of my favorite places to race at. Just seeing a preview of what it’s going to be (at state), it’s just so much motivation,” Mugeche said. “The first 800 I went out hard and didn’t feel very comfortable. It was just before the two mile I started to feel more comfortable and picked it up a little bit.”
St. Thomas Aquinas received a third-place showing from Will Cole (15:48), and finished second in the team competition behind College Park High from The Woodlands, Texas.
“That’s the fastest time I’ve ever run, so I’m happy with today,” Cole said. “This is my third time racing in it, and it’s always a loaded field. This field definitely has some great competitors in it.”
Kearney’s Clayton Adams finished fourth in 15:49, but was hoping for more.
“My legs were just heavy. I didn’t have it in me,” Adams said. “I couldn’t control myself today and ran sloppy. It was just a really off race. … There’s so much to learn from. It’s just going to make me stronger than if I had won. It’s just what I needed.”
Mill Valley junior Britton Nelson didn’t let a sore shin stop her from cruising to a victory in the Crimson Division race with a time of 20:00
“I got out and I was in a good position. At the turn of the first hill I used my momentum to keep going and I started to pull away,” Nelson said. “Motivation-wise, you have to think about times and how fast you have to push.”
Eudora freshman Riley Hiebert finished third in 20:07.
“I beat my PR by over a minute, and I was excited, because there’s a lot of good girls in this race,” Hiebert said. “I felt pretty good at the one-mile mark, and I felt I could keep that pace or go faster.
The Olathe South boys finished second in the Crimson team race. The top local finisher was Platte County’s Jackson Letcher (16:32), who celebrated his time immediately after crossing the finish line.
“I ran an amazing race, PR’d by 30 seconds, it was great,” Letcher said. “I was feeling good, and I had the motivation.”
The Pembroke Hill girls finished second, and Basehor-Lindwood was fourth. The Pembroke Hill boys won the team competition.