Blue Springs High School senior Stephen Mugeche spent the first three years of his high school running career — cross country and track included — building a label virtually nobody wants to have.
“I had a lot of people telling me that I was the best runner never to win the big race,” he said. “That gets old.”
Old. And no longer accurate.
Mugeche won the Missouri Class 4 cross country state championship last month, recording the fifth best time in state-meet history (15 minutes, 32.23 seconds) in the process.
Mugeche had placed second as a junior and fourth as a sophomore. He had tallied five top-four finishes at Missouri state cross country and track competitions without a victory to his name.
“It felt so good to finally have a good race (at state),” said Mugeche, The Star’s All-Metro boys cross country runner of the year. “Last year, all I felt was pain and disappointment. This year, it was all excitement and satisfaction.”
Mugeche opened the cross country season by winning the Greg Wilson Classic in Overland Park with a time of 15:14, a mark that put him among the nation’s elite runners.
He won the Suburban Gold Conference meet by 42 seconds and breezed to another victory on his home course at the Blue Springs Invitational. His second-place showing in the prestigious Rim Rock Classic gold division race was the best among area runners.
Mugeche will attend Arkansas, where he plans to run both cross country and track.
ALL-METRO BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Clayton Adams, Kearney, sophomore. He won the Missouri Class 4, Sectional 4 race and the Suburban Blue Conference meet. He then placed second behind Stephen Mugeche at the Class 4 state meet with a time of 15 minutes, 43.24 seconds.
Connor Bost, Blue Valley West, senior. Bost and fellow All-Metro selection Stuart McNutt led the Jaguars to a second-place team finish as the Kansas Class 5A state meet. He finished second at state with a time of 16 minutes, 13 seconds.
Joe Gorthy, Blue Valley, senior. Gorthy placed third — the top Kansas City area finisher — at the Kansas Class 6A state meet in 15 minutes, 52.60 seconds. He finished second in the Eastern Kansas League meet, second at KC Metro Championships and won his regional meet.
Stuart McNutt, Blue Valley West, senior. McNutt, the reigning Kansas Gatorade boys cross country runner of the year, finished his high school career with a Kansas Class 5A state championship. He also won the regional, Eastern Kansas League, KC Metro Championships and Southern Stampede races.
Stephen Mugeche, Blue Springs, senior. A signee with Arkansas, Mugeche won the Missouri Class 4 state meet with the fifth best time in meet history — 15 minutes, 32.23 seconds. He was also a conference champion and ran a time of 15:14 to win the early season Greg Wilson Classic.
Nathan Straubel, Platte County, senior. In one year, Straubel cut nearly a minute off his state-championship time to place fifth at the Missouri Class state 4 meet in 15 minutes, 50.06 seconds. He also placed second in the Rim Rock Classic crimson division race.