Chieftain girls miss league title by tie-breaker
It wasn't Election Day, but Tonganoxie did battle through a tight race Thursday at Wyandotte County Park.
The THS girls cross country squad, competing in the Kaw Valley League meet, scored the same number of points as Basehor-Linwood -- 63 -- for the top spot in the team standings. Mill Valley, meanwhile, was a point behind in third.
Although BLHS and Tonganoxie each scored 63, a tie-breaker determined who would win this year's meet. The team with the highest finishing No. 6 runner would win the tie-breaker. Tonganoxie's No. 6 runner was Kayla Leffert, who finished 25th with an 18:27 time. But Basehor-Linwood's No. 6 runner was Katelynn Witt, who finished 23rd with an 18:16 time.
Just nine seconds separated the Chieftains from a league title.
THS coach Phil Williams was encouraged by the squad's finish in the girls race, especially because it marked the first time the girls finished higher than Mill Valley since the school opened in 2000.
"That was quite an accomplishment," Williams said. "Is somebody would have told me ahead of time, I wouldn't have believed it."
Williams also was impressed with an improved Basehor-Linwood team that squeaked out the league title.
"They ran like they deserved it," Williams said.
He also pointed out to his team how crucial it is for all runners to finish strong. If one of the top five THS runners could have finished a place higher, Tonganoxie would have won a league title.
"I think all the kids, boys and girls, they learned a good lesson with the girls race," Williams said. "Don't ever say you couldn't have beaten one more person.
"You're tired and kind of satisfied with where you are and don't finish it out. At regionals, you may end up staying home from state if you do that."
At the league meet, initial numbers showed Mill Valley, Basehor-Linwood and Tonganoxie were tied for first with 70 each. But after a closer look at the finishes, there was more separation between the teams. For instance, some scores changed because some squads didn't field full teams. Therefore, those individual runners didn't figure into the point system for the team title.
Christy Weller was Tonganoxie's top runner, as she finished in fourth in the girls race with a time of 16 minutes, 40 seconds. Andie Jeannin placed sixth with a 16:44 time, while Addy Phelps, with a 17:15 time, placed 13th. Jennifer Wagner, who continues to run despite a leg injury, placed 22nd (18:09).
"I hope she continues to improve," Williams said. "It will be a wait-and-see thing for her."
Kayla Leffert finished 25th in 18:27, while Kaitlyn Saathoff placed 29th (18:46) and Katie Chenoweth 31st (18:55).