One impressive streak continued, while another came to an end during the Suburban Big Six cross country championships held on a soggy Saturday morning at Lee's Summit North High School.
Blue Springs continued its dominance in the meet, as senior Gabe McClain became the latest Wildcat to take first place, while someone other than a Blue Springs South runner took first in the girls race for the first time in five years.
McClain finished the 5-kilometer course in 15 minutes, 56.10 seconds, nearly a 14-second victory over runner-up Jimmy Dietrich of Lee's Summit West.
McClain added his name to the long list of champions from Blue Springs, making him the seventh in a row to earn such honor. Victor Mugeche won the past two, while Cody Berry won in 2015. Stephen Mugeche won in 2013 and 2014, while Simon Belete won in 2012.
The last non-Wildcat to win was Shannon Hall of Liberty in 2011, when he beat Belete.
“It is pretty exciting,” McClain said of winning the league title. “Big thing I was thinking about was the team aspect, trying to get guys to move up we had two, three or four PR (personal records). That was awesome and exciting. During the race, I was thinking my friend and teammate, Victor, got to experience this last year and now I get to experience the same thing he felt. That was the exciting part.”
The victory was the second this year for McClain, who won his home invitational and was coming off a second-place showing at the Capital City Invitational in Jefferson City the previous weekend.
This marked the first time he ran sub-16 minutes, topping his personal best of 16:07 set at the Rim Rock Farm Classic last month in Lawrence, Kansas.
“Not everyone remembers things like this, especially cross country, but we got a crazy amount of people here watching,” McClain said. “You go back to school or go back to the city, not many people think of cross country but it is exciting to have my name down (as a champion). It is there and it can't be taken away.”
Blue Springs had three runners earn all-conference honors with top 20 finishes. Sophomores Brock Wooderson was sixth and Kevin McClain took 20th, helping the Wildcats take fourth overall.
Blue Springs South, aided by four all-conference performers, took third place overall with 75 points.
Junior Dillon Grover led the way for the Jaguars with a third-place finish, followed by Jackson Lile (14th), Jack Klassen (16th) and Nate Henks (17th).
“There was a lot of unknowns but the guys ran well,” Blue Springs South coach Kyle Plummer said. “Getting third definitely is a step in the right place.”
Lee's Summit North had a pair of all-conference runners in Jack Gatti and Carson Clancy, who finished 18th and 19th, respectively.
Lee's Summit West won the boys crown by two points, 44 to 46, against Raymore-Peculiar.
The Titans swept the titles by winning the girls, tallying 39 points behind a strong showing from Ginger Murnieks.
The senior transfer from Sprague, Oregon, ran 18:12 on the new course at Lee's Summit North, which was a rather flat course, but also muddy, after a nearly two-hour weather delay.
That made her the first runner other than Blue Springs South star to take first after a three-year run by Tori Findley from 2015-2017 and Grace Klausen winning in 2014.
Blue Springs' Tessa Valdivia was second, coming in 16 seconds behind the champion. Teammate Reese Howard took 19th to earn the next-to-last all-conference honors.
Lee's Summit North's Annie McCord (11th) and Madelyn Robinson (19th) were the Broncos' all-conference runners.
Even without Findley in the lineup – she was there cheering on her former teammates in a Mizzou jacket – the Jaguars did well by taking third and having four all-conference runners.
Sophomore Jayme Opdahl led a trio of runners in the top 10 for Blue Springs South, finishing in 19:20.490, taking eighth. Freshman Mya Trober took ninth and Lauren Low, a junior, was 10th. Not far behind was McKenna Ledgerwood, a freshman, who took 14th.
“We like the fact we embraced the challenge, no one expected much of us this year,” Blue Spring South coach Ryan Unruh said of competing without Findley, who is a freshman at Mizzou. “To be a top-four ranked team in the state is nice. Three of the top four teams in the state are in this conference, so taking third or fourth or fifth here is not a bad thing. It is great. It makes us all better and it is a great opportunity to race against these girls every week.
“We came together really nicely, as a group, and they keep getting better and this is a good time of the year to start running well. I like where we are at right now. You never know what will happen in the next month, but if you can hold your own with Lee's Summit West or Ray-Pec, you’ve got to like where your season is at right now.”