SM North girls, Mill Valley boys win Bonner Springs CC Invitational
Bonner Springs The Shawnee Mission North girls cross country team has received top-10 performances from senior Amber Reed and sophomore Katie Kasunic, but what has been equally as exciting to Indians coach Aaron Davidson is the improvement of the varsity squad as a whole.
That was the case again on Saturday at Wyandotte County Park, as the Indians placed their top five runners in the top 20 to win the Bonner Springs CC Invitational.
"Honestly, I was surprised. During the race, you don't always have an accurate gauge of what is going on," Shawnee Mission North coach Aaron Davidson said. "So when I saw the results, it was a nice little surprise."
Reed led the Indians with a third-place finish after clocking in with a 5,000-meter time of 19:18.56, and Kasunic followed in fifth at 19:54.72.
"My goal was to keep in sights with Amber because we do workouts together and stuff, so I really wanted to be able to push it up there with her," Kasunic said. "I stayed with her for about the first mile and a half, and I was able to kind of keep her in sight."
Rounding out the top five for the Indians were Cassie Raines (12th place, 20:25.63), Abby Onnen (15th place, 20:41.20) and Molly Ryan (19th place, 20:51.86). Davidson said that having Reed and Kasunic competing in the top pack has been important, but believes that the performance of Raines, Onnen and Ryan could go a long way for the Indians this season.
"Those girls (Reed and Kasunic) know what their job is, and they do a good job of going out and doing it for us each other," Davidson said. "Our other girls are doing a good job of closing that gap, which is why we've been successful the last two weeks."
The SM North girls scored 52 points win the team title over St. James Academy by 13.
Junior Joe Coddington led the SM North boys for the third straight week after placing fifth overall with a time of 16:48.92.
"It's super nice seeing all of my work coming together," Coddington said. "I'm really excited to see what this season could come to."
Davidson has been encouraged by the steady performance of Coddington so far this season, and much like the SM North girls, he thinks that his boys squad is doing a job good of packing together. Senior Carter Jacobson, sophomore Asher Molina and junior Ben Tyrrell all finished less than a second apart from each other in 31st through 33rd place.
"I'm just really happy with our guys," Davidson said. "It might not show up in the results, but I thought they raced more focused today."
Mill Valley wins boys team title
Pack-running has paid dividends for the Mill Valley boys team so far this season as well, and it did again on Saturday. The Jaguars placed four in the top 10 to win the meet with a score of 45 points.
"They've been doing that in practice all week and all season," Mill Valley coach Mark Chipman said.
"We've got five, six, seven and eight just right there, too, and that helps to have that much depth."
Greg Haynes led the way for the Jaguars — taking fourth overall with a personal-best time of 16:44.22.
"I put myself out there and put myself in good position in the race," Haynes said. "When you put yourself in good position, usually it leads to a good place in the race."
There was a 21-second gap between Haynes and the Mill Valley No. 2 runner, but No. 2 through 4 were only separated by five seconds. Gavin Overbeck finished seventh with a time of 17:05.51, and Jakob Coacher and Tyler Coad followed in eighth and 10th, respectively.
The Jaguars will run at the Rim Rock Invitational on Saturday in Lawrence, where they'll see some of their top competition in the Eastern Kansas League in St. Thomas Aquinas and Blue Valley Southwest.
"It's great. I'm really curious to see how we're going to do at Aquinas this year," Haynes said of the defending Class 5A state champions. "I'm just excited. Everyone is running well, and it's fantastic."
The Mill Valley girls also earned a top-five team finish after taking fifth overall. The Jaguars were led by junior Britton Nelson, who placed eighth with a time of 20:09.25.
"I felt like I got out pretty good. I had a good start," Nelson said. "I was with the leaders for a while and then about half way through the race, they started to pull away. I just tried to keep pushing and holding on."
Nelson and fellow varsity returner Delaney Kemp have been battling injuries in the early course of the season, but Chipman liked what he saw from his freshmen-heavy squad.
"I was very pleased with them," Chipman said. "Most of them PR'd today, and ran faster than they did last week."
St. James girls finish as team runner-ups
Talented freshmen have played a big role in the early-season success for the St. James girls team as well. Freshmen Sarah Murrow (10th place, 20:18.80), Hannah Robinson (16th place, 20:50.32) and Katie Moore (19th place, 20:52.43) all cracked the top 20, along with seniors Carlie Yunger (sixth place, 19:57.52) Gabrielle Boucher (13th place, 20:32.51) to lead the Thunder.
"For our team, it's a really big step up from last year," Boucher said. "I'm really excited to see how we do as a team this year."
Boucher and the Thunder will join the Jaguars at the Rim Rock Classic next week, and she's hoping the weather will cooperate leading up to the meet to provide top-notch course conditions.
"We've had a lot of wet courses this season, so I'm looking forward to getting some dryer courses and see how much faster we can go on those," Boucher said.
Thunder No. 1 boys runner Jack Moore echoed Boucher's frustration about the muddy course, but he still felt good about his race. Moore placed 12th overall with a time of 17:12.48.
"My goal was to start out faster this race obviously with the downhill," Moore said. "I wanted to stick in the top pack, and I did for probably the first half, but then I lost it a little bit. It was still a fun time."
Hubert, Collins pace De Soto
Finishing right behind Moore in 13th place was De Soto's Sam Hubert. The Wildcats' top runner clocked in at 17:15.39, and Hubert entered the race with the eagerness of being able to run against Moore and some of his friends from Mill Valley.
"I wanted to go out fast," Hubert said. "This was our first time racing Mill Valley this year, so I know some guys from over there. I wanted to be up there with Mill Valley and St. James."
Hubert was one of three Wildcats to notch a personal best, and he's confident that their times will continue to drop.
"It was just a really good race for us," Hubert said. "We got to see some of the around here, Kansas City competition that we're going to be facing at regionals and state, so that's good for us."
Gabby Collins led the De Soto girls squad with a 16th-place finish after coming in at 20:44.65. Collins enjoyed the terrain of the course, and tried to take advantage of passing runners on the hills.
"There were times where the girls were going really slow up those hills, so you would just have to push through that and get up the hill to pass them," Collins said.
The De Soto boys and girls squads placed ninth and 11th in their respective team standings.
Maranatha coach Ausmus happy to be back at MCA
Maranatha Christian Academy's cross country team has been in its first year without long-time head coach Bianca Williams at the helm, but the transition has been a smooth one with a familiar face taking over.
Amy Ausmus, who ran for Williams in her senior year at Maranatha, is in her first season of coaching the Eagles, and she was pleased with how her team competed on Saturday.
"She to this day has been one of the most inspirational coaches that I've ever had. She's taught me a lot about how to coach, and I've also been the athlete — especially at Maranatha specifically," Ausmus said of Williams. "I have this smile on my face for every practice, every run. The kids sometimes think, 'How is she so happy when we're running so hard?' I'm so joyful about being their coach this year, and kind of going full circle from being an athlete to now a coach."
Austin Boatwright led the Maranatha boys team with a 47th-place finish after crossing the line at 18:17.08. Boatwright had a big smile on his face after the race as well because he loved competing in the muddy conditions.
"It's a lot of fun running in the mud to be honest," Boatwright said. "Times aren't as good, but it makes for a lot of memories."
Savannah Shiner paced the Maranatha girls with a time of 23:25.74, which was good for a 75th-place finish.
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