After moving to the 6A class, girls win first state cross country title in school history

The boys finished out the season in fourth place at the state cross country meet on Saturday, Oct. 27

Jonathan Atchley

Ally Nguyen, JagWire editor-in-chief

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  • After placing first at state for the first time in school history, the girls cross country team holds up their championship trophy at Rim Rock Farm on Saturday, Oct. 27. “Sometimes you just have to expect for something to happen in order to achieve it,” senior Delaney Kemp said about their results.

  • Passing over the bridge, senior Matthew Turner lengthens his strides. Turner placed 13th individually.

  • Before placing 15th, junior Jack Terry begins an upward stretch of the race.

  • With his hair blowing in the wind, junior Darius Hightower looks to pass a Shawnee Mission West runner.

  • With only minutes until race time, the girls team huddles up to share last words of encouragement.

  • Following the gunshot signifying the beginning of the race, the girls take a powerful start.

  • Focused straight ahead, junior Morgan Koca passes the first mile marker.

  • Following not far behind, junior Molly Haymaker picks up her pace.

  • Crossing the finish line with a time of 18:19, freshman Katie Schwartzkopf becomes the 6A state champion.

  • Giving maximum effort, sophomore Molly Ricker runs through the finish line. Ricker placed 10th individually.

  • Medaling at state for the second year, sophomore Josie Taylor crosses the finish in 19th.

  • In her final state appearance, senior Delaney Kemp secures her fourth place finish by keeping just ahead of another runner.

  • Circling together, the girls bow their heads for a word of prayer after hearing the news of their state championship.

  • Recently receiving her medal, sophomore Molly Ricker smiles at her family.

  • In a hug exchange, sophomore Josie Taylor and junior Morgan Koca congratulate each other on their placement.

  • Freshman Katie Schwartzkopf receives the traveling Timmons award after earning the top girls cross country time in the state of Kansas.

  • The girls pose for photos following the awards ceremony.

  • With an excited smile, juniors Molly Haymaker and Morgan Koca hold the state championship trophy together.

  • With the trophy held high, the team exits the bus after their police escort back to the school.

  • Along with gathered family, friends and community members, the girls cross country team celebrates their win together.

  • Celebrating with fellow teammates, freshman Katie Schwartzkopf smiles after hearing the news of their first place state placing.

  • Moments after their placing is revealed, senior Delaney Kemp gives head coach Chris McAfee a big hug.

  • Congratulating each other, the girls team celebrate with each other after learning of their state placing.

  • Crossing under King's Bridge, sophomore Molly Ricker keeps a steady pace to finish 11th in the state with a time of 19:36.

  • Before placing 1st, freshman Katie Schwartzkopf crosses under King's Bridge on the Rim Rock Farm cross country course on Oct. 27th.

  • Starting the race off strong, sophomore Josie Taylor finds a steady pace to finish the race in 19th place.

  • Reaching the 3rd mile mark, junior Jack Terry picks up the pace to get ahead of competing runners and finish the race with a placing of 15th and a time of 16:28.

  • Focusing straight ahead, junior Josh Mansfield keeps a strong pace, finishing with a time of 18:31.

  • With a determined look, junior Morgan Koca starts off the race with a good pace, finishing the course in 11th place and with a time of 19:53.

  • Starting off the race, senior Delaney Kemp looks determined in her performance, placing 4th overall with a time of 19:05.

  • Running along the first straight away of the race, senior Matt Turner keeps pace with the other runners to get ahead later in the race.

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The girls cross country team won the school’s first state title Saturday, Oct. 27 at Rim Rock Farm. Running in 6A for the first time, the team scored  41 points, and freshman Katie Schwartzkopf finished first with a time of over 20 seconds faster than the second place finisher.

The boys placed fourth with a score of 109.

According to head coach Chris McAfee, the team has been held to high standards all season, so focus has been placed on normalizing the state meet and remembering “it’s just another race.”

“We just kept talking about how it was a regular race and you just have to be yourselves and if somebody can beat us, they can beat us,” McAfee said. “Because of the race times we focused just a little bit more on hydration and food for today and make sure they had the fuel they needed to race well. They executed it perfectly.”

Senior Delaney Kemp, who placed fourth individually, agrees with McAfee that the meet needed to be normalized in order to calm any nerves. Her expectations were still high nonetheless.

“The state meet went amazing. It went exactly how we wanted it to, according to plan. A lot of girls broke through and did a lot better and it was fun to see girls do so great,” Kemp said. “I expected to get on the podium with our girls because that’s all we wanted this season. Sometimes you have to expect greatness in order to achieve it.”

Schwartzkopf, on the other hand, “didn’t know what to expect” because it’s her first year on the team and the end result was shocking to her.

“I think [state] went amazing. I believed in my teammates and that they would do well, [but] I was just not expecting to win overall,” Schwartzkopf said. “But I knew as a team we were going to get first, I could just feel it and I’m just very happy.”

As far as the boys team, senior Matthew Turner, who led the boys team with a 13th place finish, believes the season went well.

“The overall season went better than I expected. When it started out, a little bit, I just wasn’t where I wanted to be but as the season went on I think I was able to hold my own against a bunch of guys I have looked up to over the last couple years. I’m really happy with that,” Turner said. “As a team I think we could have done better. There were just some people that didn’t have their day; the past week has been hard for a couple of our guys. Overall, I’m not mad at anyone, I think we all did our best.”

For Schwartzkopf, the experience has been one-of-a-kind, but she mostly appreciates the bonds she’s gained through the team.

“Being together every single day is how we bond,” Schwartzkopf said. “We always get in our team huddles and talk it out, and we have so much fun at practice [by] laughing and telling stories.”

Kemp, who has been on the state team for four years, feels this season is a testament to the growth of the cross country team.

“This year, the pieces just came together,” Kemp said. “Last year we came so close, but this year everything just finished how it was supposed to.”

Looking towards the future, McAfee hopes next year will yield similar, if not better, results.

“We are only losing one senior boy and one senior girl. I think the guys are going to be a lot better now that they have the experience this year. The girls are such a responsible group, this will be one of those things that will just make them hungry to probably try to do this again next year,” McAfee said. “The future looks bright, and it’s a year away. We have got to stay healthy and train and be consistent and work on all that kind of stuff, but it’s good.”

Girls Results: First Place Overall
Freshman Katie Schwartzkopf, first: 18:19.50

Senior Delaney Kemp, fourth: 19:05.20

Sophomore Molly Ricker, 10th: 19:36.80

Junior Morgan Koca, 15th: 19:53.50

Sophomore Josie Taylor, 19th: 20:06.60

Junior Jenna Walker, 31st: 20:34.30

Junior Molly Haymaker, 38th: 20:48.00

Boys Results: Fourth Place Overall

Senior Matthew Turner, 13th: 16:26.20

Junior Jack Terry, 15th: 16:28.90

Junior Darius Hightower, 25th: 16:46.40

Junior Nicholas Schmidt, 46th: 17:04.00

Junior Nathan Greenfield, 48th: 17:05.90

Sophomore Carsyn Turpin, 50th: 17:08.10

Junior Josh Mansfield, 98th: 18:31.40

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