JEFFERSON CITY – Stephen Mugeche had nothing left in him when he crossed the finish line.
The Blue Springs junior collapsed onto the neatly trimmed gas of Oak Hills Golf Center, unable to stand by his own power for several minutes. MSHSAA officials had to help the Wildcat up.
“It just felt like I had brakes attached to my legs,” Mugeche said.
Despite posting a better time than his first-place finish at sectionals, Mugeche could not claim the top spot at Saturday’s Class 4 cross country state championships in Jefferson City.
Mugeche finished second in 15 minutes, 34.43 seconds, the third-best ever recorded at the Oak Hills course.
Marquette senior Noah Kauppila came in first and set the course record in the process, crossing the finish line at 15:22.34.
“He's one of the best in the country. I tried as best as I could, and I was close,” Mugeche said. “I gave my all here. I did what I can do, so I'm proud.”
Blue Springs coach Frank Gallick was proud, too. That's the first thing he told Mugeche after the race.
“I was very, very pleased with (his performance),” Gallick said. “When a kid gives everything he's got, that's all you can ask for.”
Truman senior Cole Rockhold was the top runner for the Patriots. Rockhold finished in fifth place with a time of 15:47.76. Rockhold topped his second-place sectional finish by 12 seconds.
“I'm really happy,” Rockhold said. “I was shooting for top five and I got fifth.”
“It was a lot of fun,” he added.
Truman's other two runners, Edgar Renteria and Cedric Gibbs, finished 86th (17:14.36) and 135th (17:50.03), respectively.
Lee's Summit North, the only Class 4 boys team to qualify from the area, came in 12th place out 16 teams. Senior Kyle Dean was North’s top runner, finishing in 35th with a time of 16:36.59. The Broncos’ runners had an average time of 17:06.11.
Blue Springs South's lone qualifier, freshman Mason Smith, overcame a mass spill at the beginning to finish 97th in 17:21.47.
In the Class 4 girls race, Lee’s Summit North took sixth with a team total of 163. Elizabeth Carpino led the way for the Broncos by finishing seventh in 18:53.18. Jesse Dinkins was 33rd in 19:41.03 and Danielle Rock 42nd in 19:53.83.
Blue Springs South’s Grace Klausen captured 25th place with a time of 19:26.66. Teammate Ashton Henson clocked in at 69th, finishing in 20:24.75.
“I got a little dizzy on the last mile, but I pushed through,” Klausen said.
“She's really happy with it, and I'm really proud of her,” Klausen said about her fellow Jaguar Henson's performance. “She did really good, and she's worked so hard.”
Blue Springs' Maria Wendell crossed the finish line at the 20:38.65 mark for an 83rd-place finish.
In Class 3, the Grain Valley boys team mirrored the Broncos’ performance with a 12th-place finish. The team finished with an average of 18:04.14 per runner. Preston Wiegel, who came in 48th (17:33.25), was the highest finisher for the Eagles. Sophomore Cameron Tecce, the top Eagle at sectionals, came in 81st place with a time of 18:00.82.
Oak Grove’s Garrett Cross finished 71st in 17:54.11.
Grain Valley’s girls were 14th, led by sophomore Lindsey Magnum in 87th. Magnum finished with a time of 21:41.91, while junior Kayla Sanning was 103rd (22:03.93).