The Blue Springs boys cross country team celebrated yet another championship at Saturday’s Class 4 Sectional 4 meet – a common occurrence this season after previously bagging conference and district crowns.

The Blue Springs boys cross country team celebrated yet another championship at Saturday’s Class 4 Sectional 4 meet – a common occurrence this season after previously bagging conference and district crowns.

But the hugs the Wildcats exchanged at Raymore-Peculiar High School were filled with more relief than exuberance after holding off a tight field for the team title. Blue Springs totaled 60 points to nip St. Joseph Central (75) and Rockhurst (77). Lee’s Summit North came in sixth with 120 points. The top two teams and best 30 individuals advance to state.

The final margin ended up closer than expected, but the Cats weren’t interested in style points. All that mattered was taking another step toward their goal of becoming the first team in school history to capture conference, district, sectional and state championships.

“It’s crazy,” said Blue Springs senior Simon Belete, who finished first with a time of 15 minutes, 29.1 seconds. “Coming into the season our coach kept telling us how Blue Springs has never won conference, district, sectional and state in the same year, and to come out here and do something our school has never done when it’s been around for so long. ... It’s like, ‘We haven’t accomplished this yet? Let’s get this done.’”

Blue Springs sophomore Stephen Mugeche joined Belete as the pace-setter, finishing second in 15:37.7. The Wildcat duo held off Truman junior Cole Rockhold, who clocked a third-place time of 15:44.4. James Barnett added and eighth-place tally (16:10.5) for the Cats and Devon Sesler came in 12th in 16:27.8.

“We knew coming in it was going to be tough,” Mugeche said. “We just wanted to come out here and at least qualify for state even if we didn’t win. But we did it and we’re happy and proud of it.”

Rockhold has been chasing Belete and Mugeche all season and changed his strategy Saturday after finishing fourth in last week’s district race. After starting too fast at districts, he used a moderate pace early in Saturday’s meet and tried playing catch-up in the last half. He settled for third, but said he’s feeling confident heading into next weekend’s state meet at Oak Hills Golf Center in Jefferson City.

“I hope to be top 10 at state,” Rockhold said. “I’d like to beat some guys that have beaten me these last couple races to hopefully get some redemption.”

Other area individual qualifiers were William Chrisman’s Tristan Laughlin (19th, 16:34.1), Blue Springs South’s Cady Griff (29th, 16:39.8) and Lee’s Summit North’s trio of Kyle Dean (23rd, 16:35.9), Brian Green (24th, 16:36.2) and Sam Stockman (26th, 16:37.7).

Alex Stephens recorded a 74th-place time of 18:14.5 for Fort Osage.

In the girls race, Lee’s Summit West – winner of the last five state championships – finished first with 39 points to edge St. Teresa’s Academy (45). Lee’s Summit North finished fourth as the only local team to field a complete squad.

Four Bronco runners placed in the top 30 with Elizabeth Carpino leading the way with a 12th-place mark of 19:35.1. Danielle Rock came in 20th, Mandi Murphy was 29th and Jesse Dinkins ended 30th.

Blue Springs junior Corinne Rinne notched a 16th-place time of 19:40 and Blue Springs South sophomore Grace Klausen qualified with a 20th-place finish (19:52.9).

Chrisman freshman Elizabeth Straub clocked a 21:22.7 to finish 60th.

CLASS 3 DISTRICT 7: Grain Valley coach Michael Painting thought he had a chance to take both his boys and girls squads to state for the first time in the programs’ six-year history. Instead, Saturday ended in heartbreak for each team.

First the girls narrowly missed advancing after finishing four points behind second-place Pembroke HIll (52). Notre Dame de Sion (29) ran away with the team title.

Then the boys suffered a similar fate after totaling 71 points – seven behind second-place Pleasant Hill. Pembroke Hill finished first with 28 points.

The good news is three runners on each team placed in the top 15 to earn a state trip. On the boys side, freshman Cameron Tecce came in ninth (18:19.6) followed by junior Chris Hughes (11th, 18:29) and sophomore Tim Hinton (13th, 18:36.7). Sophomore Kayla Sanning (ninth, 20:56.4), freshman Hannah Coons (10th, 20:57.9) and senior Kelsi Schrader (15th, 21:25.5) made it for the girls.

Garrett Cross qualified for the Oak Grove boys by finishing 10th.