Tori Findley capped off her third straight Suburban Big Seven championship with little trouble Saturday morning.
The Blue Springs South senior and Missouri commit cruised to the league title with a time of 18 minutes, 32 seconds on a soggy and muddy 5-kilometer course at Lake Jacomo. Her time was 26 seconds faster than the runner-up, Raymore-Peculiar's Miranda Dick.
In the boys race, fellow Missouri commit Victor Mugeche of Blue Springs won another conference title and helped lead his Wildcats to the league championship.
Both runners had little issue in setting the pace and then pulling away from the pack.
Finishing in first place is nothing new to Findley, who has dominated courses throughout the season. She only had runners near her on the initial start of the race and she started to pull away on the first of the three trips around the course on the way the victory.
“I think over the year, I have gradually improved and learned to run on my own and push myself,” Findley said. “This was our last time running here and it was conference, I think just having my teammates behind me helped make sure I got that one point.”
The only runner to beat Findley in a league race was in 2014, when teammate Grace Klaasen took first at conference and Findley was the runner-up.
Next up is districts, which Truman will host on Oct. 21, the start of Findley's push to become a state champion. Findley has second-, third- and sixth-place finishes to her credit at the state championships and is aiming for the top spot on the podium this fall.
Last year she came in second behind Washington's Mikayla Reed, who will also run at Missouri.
Findley took official visits to Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kansas before deciding to stay in-state and run for the Tigers.
“I talked to them the least leading up the official visit,” Findley said. “I thought it was the University of Missouri. I will check it out and then I fell in love and that is where I wanted to go. Missouri was the first visit and the other ones were awesome, but I just kept going back to Mizzou.”
Ray-Pec won the girls title with 55 points, edging Blue Springs South by four points and Lee's Summit West by eight. Blue Springs was fourth, followed by Lee's Summit North, Park Hill and Lee's Summit.
First-team all-conference honors – the top seven – went to South's Findley and Danielle Hotalling (third) and Blue Springs' Tessa Valdivia (fifth).
The boys race featured an even muddier terrain than the girls as it was second. After having nearly 50 runners trek through the course earlier, the turns and hills were a little more treacherous.
Even that didn't slow down Mugeche, who ran it in 15:44.2, helping Blue Springs win the league title with 33 points. Teammate and fellow Mizzou commit Oaklee Hauschild was second, running 16:05.3 and Gabe McClain took seventh to also nab first-team all-conference honors.
“The elements were different, but you had to make adjustments at whatever comes at you,” said Mugeche, who was the conference champion last year. “There were many spots where I slid a little.”
Mugeche entered as the favorite in the race and rightfully so after winning after winning nine of his past 13 cross country aces.
Wearing the target isn't much of a worry for the senior who was the state runner-up last year and a state champion his freshman year.
“I try not to think about it, I just go out and do what I do,” said Mugeche, who is expected to join his brother Stephen at Mizzou. “This wins means a lot. I'm very excited. I used to get nervous about these races but now I'm super pumped to be out there. I'm not nervous, I'm excited.”
Blue Springs South's Zachary Grover took fifth to earn first-team all-conference honors and help the Jaguars place fourth overall. Lee’s Summit North, led by Drew Reis’ ninth-place finished third behind Lee’s Summit West.