The question as to who would step into big voids left at the top of the Blue Springs boys and girls cross country lineups has been answered – at least after one week.
The second annual Tim Nixon Invitational on Saturday at the Wildflower Course near Liberty North provided many teams a look at their lineups in the first meet for many teams.
The Wildcats left with a championship from junior Brock Wooderson in the Gold Division. He used a late kick to beat Staley’s Jack Warner by the slimmest of margin as the times both showed 16 minutes, 11 seconds.
“It was a good first race for sure,” Wooderson said. “I didn’t know quite how the race would go, so I just went with the top pack. It was a little before the two mile (mark) before I broke away and I finished hard. Subconsciously I just went, from the all the workouts and the last rep, just going hard.”
Wooderson took over the top spot for Blue Springs from Gabe McClain, an all-stater last fall.
Wooderson finished 1 1/2 minutes faster than his closest teammate. The next five Wildcats placed between 34th and 50th, which led to a seventh-place team finish.
“As a team we did pretty solid for our first meet. We’ve got some things to work on, but it was a good race,” said Wooderson, a two-time state qualifier with finishes of 98th and 138th.
Royce Fisher took 14th place for Grain Valley, while Lee’s Summit North’s Carson Clancy secured a top-20 finish by taking 17th.
Grain Valley was eighth and Lee’s Summit North took ninth in the team standings. The Gold Division was made up of larger schools that had a sectional qualifier last year.
This year’s field had some bigger schools missing like Blue Springs South, Rockhurst, St. Joseph Central and Lee’s Summit West. The exit of Lee’s Summit West and Blue Springs South opened up the girls field.
Liberty North’s Elizabeth Stinson posted a six-second win in the Gold Division race.
However, for a bit she was the runner-up.
A mix-up in the results had Smithville in the large division and Grain Valley in the smaller division.
Smithville’s Olivia Littleton finished nine seconds ahead of Stinson to win the Gold and then was declared the Silver Division winner after the teams were corrected.
Lee’s Summit North’s Annie McCord was the runner-up in the Gold Division in a field dominated by West Plains and Liberty. Four of the top 10 were from West Plains but out of the top seven, six schools were represented.
Blue Springs senior Alyna Thibault claimed seventh place. She ascended to the top spot vacated by Tessa Valdivia, last year’s Class 4 state runner-up.
The two ran together in practice over the past few years. The first race without Valdivia was different for Thibault, who took 100th in the state meet last year.
“I felt like I did really good for my first race, but I definitely could’ve done better,” Thibault said. “I’m really happy I was the first one to finish. It has been Tessa. It made me miss Tessa, but I’m happy it is my turn. I learned a lot from her. It is weird not having her; we used to run together in practice. It is weird not having her to help me push.”
West Plains had a score of 37, 32 points ahead of Liberty for the Gold team title.
Grain Valley took seventh, followed by Blue Springs in eighth and Lee’s Summit North took 10th in the 11-team field.
Grain Valley was also impacted by the snafu. The Eagles lost the team title by a point to Platte County, 59 to 60, and had a top-10 placer in Ella Casey before the correction. After the correction, Casey, a sophomore, took 19th in the Gold Division.