The newcomers to the Suburban Small Seven made quite the impact.
Grain Valley and Smithville each had an individual title at the league’s cross country finals held Monday at Jesse James Park in Kearney, rescheduled from Saturday because of rain.
The Eagles took second place in both races and had top two finishers in each race.
Junior Royce Fisher posted a nine-second victory in the boys race for Grain Valley, crossing the finish line in 17 minutes, 30.3 seconds.
Fisher changed his plan before the race according to coach Nick Small, wanting to get out ahead early. It worked for Fisher as he led throughout much of the race.
The only issue he had was the final hill, not as daunting as the one at the state meet, but a good test over the final quarter-mile.
"It feels good," Fisher said. "I kind of thought of the odds with Grain Valley in the first year in the conference and I didn't know how the race would play out. We trained hard for this. No one really expected much. They didn't really know what school we were.
"I wasn't looking for a certain place. I was running for the team, but after the first mile, I put it in my head, ‘I gotta go do this,’ and it played out well."
The victory was the third of the year for Fisher. He will have one more chance this regular season for a win when the Eagles run at the Warrensburg Invitational on Thursday, Oct. 11.
Two other runners were in the top 10 for the Eagles. Sophomore Collin Clemens was sixth to earn first-team all-conference honors, while freshman Mason McCain (10th) and junior Jaxon Jarman (14th) were second-team all-conference.
In the team standings, the Eagles had 51 points and were 11 behind Kearney.
The girls race and team standings were led by Smithville and Grain Valley.
The Warriors won the team title with 29 points, while Grain Valley was second with 48. Smithville had three of the top four finishers.
The race featured Smithville’s Olivia Littleton and Grain Valley’s Ella Casey running neck and neck through the first two miles. Littleton started to pull away late and won in 20:22.1, while Casey, a freshman, was second in 20:32.8.
Grain Valley had six of the top 16 finishers, five in a span from eighth and 16th – all sophomores. Valerie Holcomb took eighth, Alaina Valverde was 10th and Kyla Huber was 13th, all earning second-team all-conference honors.
"We have some good schools in the Missouri River (Valley Conference)," Small said. "This is definitely a step up and we love the challenge. We have been preparing for that move. We are in Class 4. When I got here, we were in Class 3. We like it. There are a lot of quality schools here."
SUBURBAN LARGE SEVEN: Truman’s Stacy Briggs was fifth in the Suburban Large Seven Championships to earn all-conference honors Saturday at Bingham Middle School.
She finished the race in 20:59.90, about 2 minutes behind the first-place finisher, Liberty’s Madelynn Hill (19:38.00). Liberty North won the girls side with 51 points.