More than2,400 runners converged on Rim Rock Farm for the annual Rim Rock Classic. This race draws attention from not only teams across Kansas, but also draws teams from Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Here are the storylines from Saturday’s meet.
SM West’s Alli Cash sets course record
As SM West’s Alli Cash turned the corner for the homestretch, it wasn’t a question of if she would break the course record of 14:13, but if she would run sub-14 minutes.
She came down the last straightaway and occasionally glanced at the clock, just to see if she would get below 14 minutes. Cash took first by a wide margin with a time of 13:59.3, the first time ever a high school girl ran a sub-14 minute 4K on the renowned course.
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“Up on the horizon, I was definitely feeling it,” said Cash. “I was just thinking, ‘Oh, it’s so close! I don’t know if I can do it.’ But then I just tried.”
Second place went to Heather Bates of Pine Creek (Colo.) in 14:26.3, the fifth fastest time in course history, third was Maggie Montoya of Rogers (Ark.) in 14:34.1 and Bishop Carroll’s Kaelyn Balch finished fourth with a time of 14:54.5.
“I never thought I’d run under 14 (minutes) on this course, or any course, really,” said Cash. “I tried to stay as conservative as I could in the first mile, but it’s tough because there were so many good girls out there. I wanted to do better than I did last year here which was 14:25.”
There was no pride lost for Carroll’s Balch, who had a goal in mind.
“I broke 15 minutes for the first time since freshman year,” said Balch. “I was excited to get in with a fast group of girls and see how fast I could go.”
Balch felt her race was perfectly executed, as she felt great throughout didn’t start too fast or too slow.
Ellinwood’s Montoya takes the Boys’ Blue Race
Defending 2A state champion Pedro Montoya and his team have practiced strong finishes just in case they find themselves down the stretch battling for a position. It wasn’t down the stretch that Montoya broke away, but he broke away nonetheless.
“This race is as hard as state,” said Montoya. “Our goal is to win another state championship.”
He finished the race with a personal record of 16:15.3, a 5:14 mile pace. Montoya told his coach before the race that he was going for a personal record.
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“This PR was hard,” he said. “My last one was on a flat course, and this is nothing like it.”
Andale’s Jacob Wallace finished second in 16:27.5, nipping Chris Baker of Frontier Academy (Colo.) by a tenth of a second. West’s Dominick Fonseca finished with a time of 16:45.2.
Fonseca’s goals are to finish in the top 10 at state, and the strong finish at Rim Rock is more than an encouragement for him.
“I had low self-esteem because I hadn’t broke 17 (minutes) in a while,” said Fonseca. “I came in with the mentality to do it and I did it. With this finish and this time, I feel like I can get my goal. It’s the middle of the season, so I want to get it down to 16:40.”
Sacred Heart’s Donley takes second in the Boys’ Crimson Race
Sacred Heart’s Cory Donley knew he needed to go slow on the first mile. He saw the first race go by with a first mile pace of 4:46, he knew he needed to pump the brakes. He finished second with a personal record of 15:53.7. The top finisher was Cole Rockhold of Truman (Mo.) in 15:38, a 5:02 mile pace.
His past experience with the course didn’t hurt, either.
“This is the race I look forward to every year,” said Donley. “This is where I run state, so to run it before is definitely a bonus.”
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Donley isn’t shy about discussing the advantage he holds of knowing the course before his 3A counterparts.
“I know where the hills are and know where to push hard,” said Donley. “I also know where to slow down a little to let my body recover.”
He beat out Dodge City’s Oscar Carmona, who finished third in 16:07.6. Ren Bean of Mulvane finished fourth in 16:14.5 and Derby’s Brandon Lewis rounded out the top five of the Crimson race in 16:20.1.
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Valley Center’s Wedekind gets another win at Rim Rock
Valley Center’s Morgan Wedekind knew what to expect with the Rim Rock course and applied her knowledge to the tune of a first-place finish in 15:04.1. Lexington’s (Neb.) Vanessa Ambriz took second in 15:28.2. Lansing twins Nashia and Malika Baker finished in third and fourth with times of 15:39.1 and 15:39.5, respectively.
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“I strategized in my head what parts to take it easier on and what parts of the race I could push through,” said Wedekind.
She didn’t want to start too fast in the first mile, and was even in the back of the front pack at the end of the first mile. Wedekind set a personal record Saturday with her time.
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“I was surprised at my time,” she said. “It’s a good thing. I feel like I’m actually getting better.”
She made her move from the rest of the pack about a mile and a quarter into the race. She always went too hard on the first mile, so she made sure she didn’t do that again.
“I was waiting on the other girls to get tired (in the first mile),” she said. “I could have an easier time getting past them so I wouldn’t get too tired.”