By Mike Courson
STERLING, Kan. - The clouds parted long enough for the cross country field to enjoy some dry yet cool conditions at the Sterling Country Club Thursday afternoon.
With the likes of Hutch Trinity's Celia Biel and Lyons' Samantha Trejo gone to graduation, the race was wide open for Berean Academy junior Erin Topham, who won by 17 seconds in 19:46.20.
"It was a bit humid but I definitely like the cloudier weather when the sun is behind the clouds," Topham said.
Topham, the reigning fourth-placer finisher in 2A, led about half the race. Sophomore teammate Brooke Wiebe ran third in 20:40.3. In spite of those finishes, Berean Academy finished second with 71 points. Buhler won the race with 33 points, and Ellinwood finished third with 77 points.
"I think we were just out here to have positive attitudes, help one another out, and have a good time," said Topham.
All five Buhler scorers finished in the top-13. Senior Hannah Nuest led the pack in 20:03.9 for the silver. Sophomore Jenna Ramsey placed fifth with a time of 21:10.1.
Sophomore Emma Willison finished three spots later in 21:23.8, and sophomore Iris Rees rounded out the top-10 in 21:45.2. Freshman Brityn Bobo picked up the final team points in 13th with a time of 22:01.8.
Other top-10 finishers included Ellinwood freshman Ashtin Klepper in fourth with a time of 21:02.4, Pratt freshman Sian Helfrich in sixth in 21:14.4, and Ellinwood freshman Erin Hammeke in seventh with a time of 21:19.3. Hutch Trinity sophomore Sierra Garcia ran ninth in 21:41.7. Hoisington junior Jessi Kinscher just missed the top-10 by six seconds in 21:51.8.
2A champ St. John leads boys' race
The Tigers lost a lot to graduation but have still proved to be a force on the cross country course this season. Thursday, St. John scored 57 points to run away with the boys' title.
Pratt finished second with 77 points, and Buhler scored 82 points for third. Larned finished a distant fourth with 139 points to edge Hutch Trinity by a single point.
Buhler junior Rand Lohrentz placed third in Concordia to open the season but had yet to win a race this season. Running in a pack most of the way, he pulled ahead in the final 900 yards to win by six seconds in 17:23.3.
"This was just a real nice race," he said. "They have a real nice course and it was great weather. "I was pumped up about it. We had great conditions and I was ready to go."
Pratt took the next two spots via sophomore Raul Orozco in second with a time of 17:29.9, and junior Nate Kolm in 17:31.8 for the bronze. St. John sophomore A.J. Miller ran fourth in 17:32.9, and Inman sophomore Nicholas Martisko capped the top-five in 17:33.2.
St. John had three runners in the top-11. Senior Braden Witt ran second on the squad and eighth overall in 17:50.5. Senior Quincy Smith placed 11th in 17:58.4, just five seconds from the top-10. Junior Mason Osborne ran 20th in 18:18.9, and junior Hunter Hanson picked up the final team points, crossing in 18:23.7 for 22nd.
Other top-10 finishers in the race included Hoisington's returning state qualifier Dayne Yott. The sophomore placed sixth in 17:39.0. Larned's Braydon Lothman finished seventh in 17:45.7, Berean Academy freshman Trey Topham ran ninth in 17:50.8, and Ellinwood junior Peter Joslin finished 10th in 17:53.2.
There were 87 finishers in the boys' race and 60 finishers in the girls' race.
Buhler girls run away with race in Sterling
By Mike Courson