Shawnee Dispatch

Mill Valley cross country sweeps Mark Chipman Cat Classic

Former Mill Valley cross country coach Mark Chipman gathers for a photo with MV cross country runners Molly Haymaker (far left), Jenna Walker (middle left), Morgan Koca (middle right) and Britton Nelson (far right) during the Mark Chipman Cat Classic on Wednesday at Shawnee Mission Park. Enlarge photo

October 5, 2017

A rainy day couldn't erase the smile off of former Mill Valley cross country coach Mark Chipman's face on Wednesday.

The longtime cross country coach, who retired after last school year after 35 seasons of coaching between Mill Valley and De Soto, grinned from ear to ear while watching his former MV runners coast to first-place finishes at the Mark Chipman Cat Classic at Shawnee Mission Park.

While Mill Valley sophomore Morgan Koca and junior Greg Haynes enjoyed leading the Jaguars to first place in both varsity races, it was even more fun for them to put on a show in front of Chipman.

"He definitely deserves it, that's for sure," Koca said of the meet being named in Chipman's honor. "It's really cool with the atmosphere here and he definitely impacted me in running, so I'm glad this is something I can kind of run for him."

Koca, who won with a three-mile time of 19:00.8, had plenty of help in securing Mill Valley's first-place finish, as five Jaguars placed in the top 10. Senior Britton Nelson finished right behind Koca as the runner-up. Freshmen Molly Ricker and Josie Taylor followed up third and fifth, respectively, and sophomore Jenna Walker came in sixth.

"It's really nice and it's good to know that we're already like this," Koca said. "We were like this from the beginning, and hopefully we can it like this until state. It's definitely a confidence booster."

Wednesday marked the first time the Koca has been the No. 1 finisher for Mill Valley, and said that her improvement has a lot to do with her teammates and the guidance of coach Chris McAfee.

"I think compared to last year, I'm definitely stepping up my game. It definitely helps that they're pushing me at practice," Koca said. "We're becoming more of a team this year and working off of each other. Mac always tells us to use each other and that we don't need to go alone. That's really helping me with how I run."

Haynes followed up Koca's victory with one of his own after clocking in at 15:40 to win the varsity boys race. The Mill Valley junior had a lot of confidence going into the meet since he had a good idea of who would be with him in the top pack. Haynes set forth the goal of keeping Gardner-Edgerton's Trent Cochran in his sights, and his plan worked to perfect.

"I knew that Trent was definitely going to be up there at some point in the race, so before the race, I was like, 'You know what? I'm just going to try to stay with him for as long as I can. If he leaves, then he leaves,'" Haynes said. "We hit the two-mile mark and I was still there, so I just tried to hang in right there to the finish."

Not only did Haynes keep pace with Cochran, but he found an extra gear in the final mile to edge the Gardner-Edgerton junior by six seconds for first place. Haynes won the race with a time of 15:40.

Sophomore Jack Terry followed Cochran in third place, and the pack of sophomore Darius Hightower and seniors Gavin Overbeck and Mitch Dervin finished in fifth through seventh place. Senior Justin Grega also placed in the top 10 after taking ninth.

Haynes said that Chipman cheering on the Jaguars definitely inspired him and his teammates to run one of their best races of the season.

"It was awesome," Haynes said. "I saw him out there as I was running on the course and that was just a huge motivation for me to come out here and get the win."

De Soto's Hubert, Zade run to fourth place

De Soto junior Sam Hubert also found himself in the mix with Cochran and Mill Valley's top runners.

Hubert built upon his big personal-best 5,000-meter time of 16:19.05 at the Seaman Invitational on Saturday with a time of 15:57.9 to take fourth place.

"It just feels pretty surreal at like a middle-of-the-week meet to do something I've never done before," Hubert said.

De Soto's No. 1 runner was also proud of the effort from his teammates, as the Wildcats finished fourth behind Mill Valley, Shawnee Mission North and Gardner-Edgerton. Andre VanMeerhaeghe and Graham Hudelson medaled for the Wildcats after placing eighth and 13th, respectively.

"They all did great. Andre and Graham both broke 17 (minutes) today," Hubert said. "Our (number) five, six and seven guys who we really will be counting on at the regional did a great job, too. They were under 19 and having a great day."

On the girls side, De Soto came away with four medalists to earn a second-place finish. Freshman Jordan Zade led the way with a time of 19:39.1, which was good for fourth place.

Senior Gabby Collins and sophomore LaMyah Ricks placed 12th and 13th, respectively, and freshman Nicole Schottler was not far behind in 16th.

Taylor, Kasunic lead SM North

Shawnee Mission North's varsity runners did not compete on Wednesday, but a pair of Indians JV runners did earned top-10 finishes.

North sophomore Blake Taylor finished 10th in the boys race with a time of 16:48.5 to help the Indians to second place. Austin O'Dwyer (12th place), Zach Bell (16th) and Harden Boldt (20th) joined Taylor in earning a medal for the Indians.

Freshman Christianna Kasunic paced the SM North girls squad after placing eighth with a time of 19:59.3. Abby Onnen finished just three seconds back of Kasunic in 11th to help the Indians to sixth place.

Shiner, Heddings pace Maranatha

Senior Savannah Shiner highlighted the meet for Maranatha Christian Academy after finishing 24th with a time of 21:06.7.

"It felt good," Shiner said. "I got a PR today."

Paul Heddings led the Maranatha boys with a time of 18:41.9, which was good of 65th place.

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