By JIM MISUNAS
WAMEGO – The St. John Tigers captured the Class 2A state cross country championship with teamwork. Every runner and every place counted when St. John’s 73-point total nipped Johnson-Stanton County by one point at Wamego Country Club.
One point – the difference between holding up the Class 2A state trophy or hoisting up the runner-up trophy.
It prompted a victory jump and quick wave of celebration by St. John coach Joel Delp, who could hardly believe his eyes.
“Every point matters and it came down to one point,” Delp said. “We talk about that all the time. We had several Stanton County runners right behind us. We’ve had different people step up every meet and that’s what happened today. They’ve worked really hard to accomplish this.”
St. John’s A.J. Miller placed 17th (18:29.1) and senior Triston Long finished 19th (18:36.2). After two runners, the Tigers trailed Stanton County by 14 points.
“We knew it would be close and coach told us it would come down to one or two points,” said Long, who has played for two Class 2A state championship basketball teams. “Every runner counted and we ran great as a team. This is a lot harder sport to win.”
But the Tigers’ other three runners – Wrangler Walker, 21st, 18:38.3; Remington Walker, 25th, 18:42.0; and Quincy Smith, 31st, 19:04.0 – picked up 15 points on the Trojans. Wrangler Walker was St. John’s other senior runner.
“We pushed through today,” Remington Walker said. “We knew Stanton County was the team to beat and we beat them.”
Long, Wrangler Walker and Remington Walker ran in a tight pack.
“That was huge – something those guys have done all year,” Delp said. “Quincy ran a great race, beating the Stanton County runner.”
Smith, the Tigers’ fifth and final runner who could help, finished five places ahead of Trojan Jose Mendoza. The Tigers also won team titles in 1972, 1973 and 1975.
“We had guys step up. Each individual won the state meet with their effort. It was very big for our team to run as a pack,” Smith said. “We try to stay together and push each other and that helps us in races. It changed throughout the year.”
Smith achieved notoriety when he raced without a shoe last year.
“It was incredible how many people congratulated me on finishing the race with both shoes on,” he said.
Ellinwood finished 11th as a team led by Peter Joslin, 24th (18:41.2).
“We ran pretty well, but we’re young,” said Ellinwood coach Andrew Cherry. “Peter Joslin has gone from 48th to 24th in one year. Our top three guys ran well. Our fourth and fifth were further back than we hoped.”
CLASS 2A STATE
TEAM SCORES—1—St. John 73; 2—Stanton County 74; 3—Yates Center 82; 4—KC Christian 112; 5—Bennington 131; 6—Salina Sacred Heart 145; 7—Jackson Heights 159; 8—Wichita County 194; 9—Skyline 208; 10—Ellinwood240; 11—Burden Central 272; 12—St. Marys 324
TOP 20 MEDALISTS—1—Frank Cuevas, Kiowa County, 16:41.2; 2—Hadley Splechter, Yates Center, 16:41.4; 3—Ethan Thompson, Meade, 17:21.4; 4—Colin Bedell, Yates Center, 17:30.7; 5—Adrian Pishny, Valley Heights, 17:31.3; 6—Caleb Carrasco, Stanton County, 1&;51.3; 7—Jordan Smith, Yates Center, 17:52.7; 8—Jared Shriver, Skyline, 18:00.1; 9—Isiah Barrera, Stanton County, 18:06.3; 10—Henry Nelson, Lawrence Seabury, 18:07.4; 11—Jon Hinerman, Hillsboro, 18:14,5; 12—Austin Boatwright, Maranatha, 18:15.2; 13—Wyatt Browning, KC Christian, 18:15.7; 14—Steve Royenstine, KC Christian, 18:18.9; 15—Cooper Mumford, KC Christian, 18:21.3; 16—Keelan Aita, Bennington, 18:22.6; 17—A.J. Miller, St. John, 18:29.1; 18—Nic Martisko, Inman, 18:31.3; 19—Triston Long, St. John, 18:36.2; 20—Bernard Giefer, Trego, 18:36.8
ST. JOHN RESULTS—17—A.J. Miller, 18:29.1; 19—Triston Long, 18:36.2; 21—Wrangler Walker, 18:38.3; 25—Remington Walker, 18:42.0; 31—Quincy Smith, 19:04.0; 58—Mason Osborne, 20:01.2; 63—Trey Fisher, 10:14.8
ELLINWOOD RESULTS—24--Peter Joslin, 18:41.2; 49—Jayce Christiansen, 19:42.9; 68—Jason Winget, 20:24.5; 87—Jon Whisnant, 22:01.6; 89—P. Perez Gonzales Galle, 22:30.3