Mill Valley breaks Chieftains’ Kaw Valley streak
Winning the 4A State Cross Country Meet has been a goal of Tonganoxie High's since last year's race.
But last Thursday, the Chieftains failed to meet a smaller goal at the Kaw Valley League Meet at Shawnee Mission Park.
Tonganoxie took second, scoring a point behind Mill Valley (42-43) in the varsity race. The Chieftains had bettered the Jaguars by roughly 30 points in each of their previous three meetings this season, but Jaguar Jay Matlack won the race, and MVHS won the meet.
More importantly, Mill Valley broke Tonganoxie's five-year reign as KVL champions.
"We're furious because it's our senior year," Kyle Norris said.
Norris and fellow seniors Tony Aligo and Tommy Powell hadn't lost a league race until Thursday. Norris finished second behind Matlack with a time of 16:35. Matlack also won the Rim Rock Farm Classic last month near Lawrence, while Norris took fourth.
Aligo finished third (17:08) and Powell was fifth (17:25), but the high finishes weren't quite enough for the Chieftains. Corey Brest, who had to stop because of vomiting in the last 100 yards, lost enough spots during the stop, enabling Mill Valley to finish ahead of the Chieftains. Brest finished in 16th with an 18:40 time; Andy Kolman was 17th with an 18:59 time.
The league meet marked the second consecutive week Tonganoxie didn't win the team title after winning its first six meets.
"It was a very disappointing evening," Chieftain coach Phil Williams said. "You can just about go down the list and just about everybody had something go wrong."
Along with Brest's problems, Powell went the wrong way around a tree on the course and had to backtrack, losing precious time.
"That's just a mental mistake," Williams said.
Levi Huseman stayed out of the league meet because of an ongoing illness, but is expected to return for regionals.
Tonganoxie had its misfortunes, but some Chieftains did have strong meets, Williams said. Aligo and Colt Coffin performed well at Shawnee Mission Park. Coffin was in his first varsity meet, finishing 20th with a 19:11 time. Matt Chenoweth was 19th (19:08).
Despite losing the league title, Tonganoxie has its first real step toward its state goal coming soon. The Chieftains will play host to a 4A regional Saturday. Mill Valley will come to Tonganoxie, as will Baldwin, a team the Chieftains haven't faced in regionals for many years. The regional will be loaded, as Mill Valley is ranked fifth in state, while Baldwin and Tonganoxie are No.1 and No. 2 respectively, the same finish they had last at state in Wamego.
The boys race begins at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Girls cross country
The Chieftain girls were hoping for an outside shot at the league title, but had to settle for third.
Laura Korb was second with a 12:41 time, while Elizabeth Smith turned in a 13:43 time and a 12th-place finish.
"Elizabeth Smith is really coming on strong," Williams said.
Heather Helm finished in 16th with a 13:53 time, while Kelley Stauch rounded out the top 20 with 14:10 finish. Michelle McWilliams, who Williams said was fighting an illness, finished 23rd with a 14:22 time.
Abbie Jones was 42nd (15:40) and Amanda Chenoweth was 46th (15:57).
Now the girls also must look toward regionals on their home turf next Saturday. The Chieftains hope the meet isn't its final as a team.
"The girls have a 50-50 chance," Williams said.
The top three teams from each regional advance to state, as do the top 10 individual runners.
The girls race starts at 2 p.m. Saturday.