WAMEGO, Kan.—The majority of the North Central Kansas League boys’ cross country runners have one question for Clay Center’s Austin Sturdy.
The question is: What about your stress fractured leg?
Most likely it is 100 percent healed.
Sturdy, who fractured his leg in 2011 running in the Wamego Invitational, showed just how well he has recovered from the injury by winning Thursday’s NCKL boys’ race by 42.66 seconds. He won the race by so much, his next closest competitor (Wamego’s Jordon Routh) was not even around the final corner when Sturdy crossed the finish line.
"I’m just familiar with this course," Sturdy said. "It was pretty easy because you know what this course is like and where you need to kick. It is not that difficult. … I just opened strong and tried finishing even stronger.
"Winning was nice. I missed (running cross country), so this feels good."
Sturdy’s individual crown helped the Tigers earn second place as a team Thursday as Clay Center finished with 49 points. Wamego won the team title with 21 points as the Red Raiders had four of the top five individuals and all six of their runners finished in the top 10 individually.
Concordia finished in third place as a team with 96 points while Abilene was fourth with 117 points. Chapman finished in fifth with 122 points while Marysville finished sixth with 140 points.
Concordia’s Courtney Monzon won the girls’ NCKL individual title in a time of 16 minutes, 13.08 seconds. Monson’s time helped the Lady Panthers finish third in the team race.
Wamego won the girls’ team title with 33 points, including three finishers in the top five individually and four in the top 10. Clay Center finished second in the girls’ team race with 50 points, Concordia was third with 53 points and Abilene was fourth with 88 points. Marysville and Chapman had individuals run in the race but neither school had enough runners to earn a valid team score.
Sturdy won the NCKL crown two years ago, as a sophomore, but in 2011, as a junior, he suffered the stress fracture running in the Wamego Invitational. That ended his junior season.
Sturdy was back this year, for his senior season, and on Thursday he left his competition in his dust.
"I was NCKL champ my sophomore year, so I’m used to it," Sturdy said. "(Not running as a junior) was really frustrating. Because I would have three-peated, but it was nice to come back here and win it is as a senior."