Andy Pelsma's fourth-place finish was the Lawrence High highlight of Saturday's 6A cross country championships at Rim Rock Farm.
Pelsma started near the middle of the pack and began to surge forward. Nearly a quarter of the way through the race Pelsma was 11th. At the halfway mark he surged again and pulled to fifth. A late kick coming up over the last hill allowed him to move into fourth, but the leaders were just too far ahead for him to overtake.
"I'm a little disappointed, I was shooting for first place. You always have to try for the win if you want to finish high," Pelsma said. "I was hoping that I would be able to take the lead with a kick at the end."
Shawnee Mission Northwest's Dan Gruden took the title after winning a threeway bttle with Garden City's Chris Johnson and Olathe East's Nick Luft. Gruden's performance helped Northwest threepeat as cross country champion.
"Winning the team title again was all any of us could think about this year," Gruden said. " It's a great feeling to have done it."
LHS mustered a fourth-place finish in the girls race. Senior Lori Yoder led the way for the Lions. Yoder celebrated her 18th brithday by claiming 12th place. No other Lion managed to medal.
"Everyone else seemed to be bothered by the cold. It didn't really bother me," she said. "I was planning on the 800 to be able to go back into the the front of the pack and I managed to move up a few places."
Lawrence coach Dick Reamon said he was pleased with Yoder's performance but not how the team finished.
"Quite frankly I'm disappointed with fourth," Reamon said. "But this is a team that did everything I asked of them and I have no regrets. We had hoped that we could pack up and kind of feed off of each other but that didn't happen."
The 6A girls race came down to a duel between Blue Valley Northwest's Erin Valentine and Olathe South's Amanda Pape. Valentine took the lead early and maintained it through most of the race. The Jim Ryun Skyline, the final turn before the home stretch, was where Pape began to make a move. Pape used a burst of speed to overtake Valentine and held on to earn the championship, finishing in 11:12.9.
"I was planning on breaking away earlier, but she was a tough runner and when I tried she stayed ahead of me," Pape said. "We were about even coming down the stretch and I wasn't going to let all of that hard work go to waste so I just went for it."
Temperatures in the 20's and 30's made for chilly running conditions.
Mark Menefee of Buhler and Winfield's Sara Brinkley won the 5A cross country titles. Team honors went to El Dorado for the girls and Overland Park Aquinas for the boys.