Chris Earley has been running Fort Osage’s cross country program since 2005, the same year that marked the revival of the Independence City Championship. In all that time, Earley and the Indians had never accomplished what they pulled off Tuesday.
A boy-girl sweep.
The Fort Osage girls defended their city title by placing four of their top five runners in the top 10 to beat out runner-up William Chrisman 40-61. Fort Osage’s boys, led by a dominating first-place finish by junior Michael Reddick, edged out defending champion Truman 35-40.
“That’s a neat accomplishment for the kids,” Earley said. “At the beginning of the year I thought this might be a little ambitious for them, but they got after it and obviously it’s showing on the cross country course.”
It certainly showed in Reddick, who had little trouble defending the city title he won last season. Pushed early by Truman’s Joshua Nunn and Justin Binnicker on the flat yet twisting course around Osage Trail Middle School, Reddick pulled away after the first mile and won the 5-kilometer race in 17 minutes, 48.11 seconds.
Nunn was almost 55 seconds behind in second and Binnicker finished third for the Patriots.
“I thought his time was fine for today,” Earley said. “There wasn’t an athlete pushing him so he was kind of on his own for a short time. But he did great.”
The time was off Reddick’s personal-best 17:39.07 he recorded in winning last week’s Oak Grove Invitational, but he said the race went pretty much as he planned.
“By the first mile I wanted to try to pull away if I could,” Reddick said.
Fort Osage also got a break with the soccer team having an off-day, which meant that two-sport athlete Austyn Smith was available. Smith placed fourth overall for the Indians, who also saw AJ Wilson and Micah Copeland place eighth and ninth, respectively.
“We share with soccer and oddly enough, they didn’t have a game on a Tuesday,” Earley said. “Having a couple of those kids running with us today obviously helped.”
Fort Osage’s girls defended their title with four top-10 finishers, but the Indians didn’t have the individual champion. Truman senior Stacy Briggs made sure of that when she dominated from start to finish to win in 20:53.84.
Brooklyne Sederwall finished almost a minute behind Briggs in second, but the Indians also had Angelina Lyons place fifth, Brailynn Harlan seventh and Asia Margo ninth. Early said it was just a continuation of the consistency the Indian girls have shown all season.
“It’s not a roller coaster like I’ve had with teams in the past where you don’t know who’s going to be your lead runner,” Earley said. “Brooklyne has typically been our lead runner Angelina and Brailynn have been our second and third runners. That’s been fairly constant all throughout and I like to see that consistency when the kids are finishing fairly close together.”
Briggs was a model of consistency as she took the lead at the gun and gradually pulled away. With no one pushing her, and fully aware of far ahead she was, Briggs found it hard to match the personal-best 19:28 she ran on this same course last year.
“You go around a turn and you can see other people but you try not to focus on it,” Briggs said. “I just kept my eyes up on the (ATV vehicle leading the racers) and focus on it.”
Lilly Connor-Urnise placed third to lead William Chrisman’s girls. The Bears had four other runners score in the top 20: Raigan Keltner (11th), Evelyn Boughan (13th), Adreal Bell (16th) and Elizabeth Eppert (18th). Katie Laughlin, the Bears’ No. 6 runner, was 19th.
Alijah Twaddell’s sixth-place finish led Chrisman’s boys, who finished third with 77 points.
Van Horn’s boys finished two points behind Chrisman paced by Angel Marmolejo’s seventh-place finish.
Van Horn’s girls also took fourth with 79 points, following third-place Truman’s 65. Mailyn Rios Meraz’s eighth-place finish led the Van Horn girls.