William Chrisman’s Elizabeth Straub said she tries to keep somethin in reserve for the last stretch of her cross country races, hoping to catch runners in front who have been setting the pace.
At Tuesday’s Independence City Championships, the Bears sophomore had just enough to earn a victory.
Straub settled 10 to 15 meters behind Truman’s Emery Staton over much of the 5-kilometer course behind Osage Trail Middle School, often running with Fort Osage’s Kelsey Robertson. After the last small climb in the one-tenth of a mile, Straub charged toward Staton and slipped past her just before the finish line.
Both runners were clocked at 21 minutes, 25 seconds.
“I’ve always learned that if you let the person in front of you act as a pacer, if you can stay with her, sometimes you can let her work herself out,” Straub said. “I usually try to save some energy for the last couple meters.”
Staton had enough support behind her, however, that Truman’s girls won the team title with 33 points to Fort Osage’s 36. William Chrisman totaled 54, and Van Horn was one girl short of a full team.
“I’m really surprised,” Truman coach John Steele said after hearing the results. “My math must’ve been bad, because I really thought my girls had second. I knew it was going to be a good competition.
“That was an exciting girls race,” he said of the Straub-Staton finish. “Each ran a smart race for their ability.”
The boys race lacked such drama, as Truman senior Cole Rockhold cruised around the course in 16:54, 42 seconds in front of runner-up teammate Edgar Renteria. They led a near-perfect Patriots scoring effort, as Truman totaled just 17 points, followed by Fort Osage (49), William Chrisman (64) and Van Horn (110).
“I knew we were probably the favorites going in,” Steele said. “But I know the city championships kind of brings out the best in teams here, so we couldn’t take anything for granted.”
Behind Staton, the Truman girls had Hailee Kramer (fifth, 22:31), Lauren Connor (seventh, 22:47), Madelyn Saak (12th, 24:40) and Olyvia Jones (13th, 24:44) to round out the scoring.
Robertson finished third in 21:54 to pace Fort Osage, followed by Stevee Naudet (sixth, 22:33), Taylor Lloyd (ninth, 23:56), Kayla Daugherty (11th, 24:24) and Abbey Simon (14th, 24:58) to complete the Indians’ top five.
Chrisman’s Angie Littlefield was 10th in 24:14, while Van Horn had a pair in the top eight in Kim Chacon (fourth, 22:04) and Destiny Marquez (eighth, 23:08).
“I really thought it was up in the air on the girls side,” Steele said. “I knew Fort Osage had four packed all together, and usually in cross country when you pack like that good things can happen.”
For Rockhold, the victory might not have been as gratifying as seeing a wave of teammates following him. David Frazier (17:48) and John Franklin (17:52) weren’t far behind Renteria, and Landon Rogers took seventh (18:50) and Will Harmon ninth (18:52).
“It’s a great feeling,” Rockhold said. “We’ve been working hard for this for a long time.
“Going into the beginning of the season we talked about putting the top five under 18. We did that right away, but that was a fast course, so we’ve wanted to do it again.
“Some were running it a little like practice, since we have conference on Saturday.”
Only Fort Osage’s Jeremiah Reynolds in fifth (18:22) and Chrisman’s Anthony Wheeler in sixth (18:40) kept the Patriots from a perfect score.
Following Reynolds for Fort Osage were Ethan Nelson in eighth (18:51) and Sam Farmer (19:15), Brendan Hackley (19:15) and Steven McDowell (19:36) going 11-12-13.
Caleb Michell took 10th in 19:13 for Chrisman, and Andy Howard led Van Horn’s runners by taking 20th (23:18).
Truman’s boys and girls also won the combined junior varsity race.