Worth the wait: Trober, Jags take title
Ryan Unruh often takes photos of his Blue Springs South runners competing at every cross country meet.
Saturday was no different as the Jaguars head coach was running around the Ray-Pec course getting photos at the Kansas City Classic.
He knew his team did well, led by Mya Trober winning wave 1. Because of COVID-19 protocols, the meet featured five waves of six to eight teams each. It was late Saturday when Unruh saw that Trober had the best time to win the girls race and the Jaguars won the team title.
That wasn’t the only win for area schools. Blue Springs standout Brock Wooderson won the boys race.
This marked the first time this year South had won a meet, often coming in behind St. Teresa’s and Liberty.
“It was a big win for us,” Unruh said. “We lost to St. Teresa’s early in the year and lost to Liberty twice. We have kind of closed the gap each week. We didn’t have a great race at Tim Nixon (Liberty’s invitational). We have been a little bit better each week and it all came together. The signs were there would have a breakout race either this week or next. Honestly just happened a week before I did, so it’s good.”
Unruh and assistant coach Jennifer Ewan knew the Jaguars did well. They also knew St. Teresa’s and Mill Valley fared well too.
So, the coaches were flipping through the photos trying to count the number of runners and places.
Unruh thought it would be close but the team had to wait for the other four waves to finish, then wait hours for the results to be official and posted.
South finished with 90 points and easily beat Mill Valley – the back-to-back Kansas Class 6A champs – by 24 points. Mill Valley cleared St. Teresa’s by 20 points. Liberty and Shawnee Mission East rounded out the top five in the 28-team field.
“It is so weird, it is so bizarre,” Unruh said of the wait. “The girls have done a great job of rolling with it. It is better than the alternative. It is bummer to not see teams celebrate in the moment and not share that as a group. My assistant and I downloaded the pictures and we were trying to count Mill Valley and count St. Teresa’s kids to deconstruct the race through pictures.
We felt like we’d win but it would be a point or two. I didn’t know we’d win by that margin – to win by 20-plus points over Mill Valley, the best program in Kansas, in my opinion. St. Teresa’s killed the No. 1 team in the state last week at Gans Creek. So I like where we are.”
Trober, a junior, won the race in 18 minutes, 54.7 seconds – a two-second margin over St. Thomas Aquinas’ Hannah Gibson, who ran in the same wave. Third-place finisher Olivia Littleton of Smithville ran in the fourth wave.
So, Trober left knowing she did well but didn’t know she won.
“It definitely makes me anxious, I remember at the last Ray-Pec meet and I kept thinking when the results will come in,” she said. “It keeps things more exciting. It makes you run harder because you are in the unknown. You have to keep going and you have to push harder. You never know what place you are in or what time you are running.”
The Jaguars had four runners in the top 25. Caitlin Grover took 13th, while freshmen Hayley Neff and Emerson Allen were 23rd and 25th, respectively. Magdalene Boley took 32nd to round out the runners that accounted for points.
“We have a lot of depth, we have eight good runners,” Unruh said. “We lost two seniors that had been the core, kind of the personality and leadership. It has been a little bit of a transition. Two through five we had freshman, freshman, sophomore and sophomore. They ran JV last year or ran middle school last year. I have had to be patient.
“We saw it building. Their workouts had been really good. I keep track of their workouts and I can compare workouts from 12 weeks ago. I kind of know where they are based on workouts they are doing and the workouts we were doing, they were ready to go. Sometimes it takes a while to have race results catch up with the practice.”
In the boys race, Blue Springs took 10th, South finished 18th and Lee’s Summit North was 19th in the 32-team field.
Wooderson won the title in 15:29.2, beating St. Thomas Aquinas teammates Tommy Hazen and Logan Seger by 12 and 13 seconds.
Hazen won wave 1 but Wooderson won from wave 2 and took that grouping of eight teams easily.
“It is kind of exciting, you know how you run and you have to wait until later in the day to know how you really stacked up against the other kids,” Wooderson said. “It brings out the true runner in you. You are running against the clock and pushing with the other guys you got, but mainly pushing yourself.
“I didn’t have one of my best races last week (at Gans Creek). Coming out here today it felt good to get the win. The job isn’t done and I'm looking at pushing myself more.”
Wildcats teammate Kevin McClain was the next from the area to finish, taking 23rd.
Blue Springs South was led by junior Alex Jackson, who took 28th. He finished a spot ahead of Lee’s Summit North’s Carson Clancy – the first Bronco to finish.
All of these runners will be back on this course on Oct. 17 for the Suburban Big Eight Championships.