Many high school cross country runners finished Saturday's grueling Jayhawk Invitational suffering from either dehydration or heat exhaustion or both.
That includes the individual champions -- Dana Carne of Omaha (Neb.) North in the boys race and Colleen Winzeler of Blue Valley Northwest in the girls race. Both battled heat, humidity and physical ailments at Rim Rock Farm.
More than 1,400 runners from four states -- Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Nebraska -- were on hand, including several of the top-ranked programs from each state.
``Winning this race gives me a big boost of confidence,'' said Carne, Nebraska's large-school defending state champion. ``It was extremely hot, and I'm dehydrated. Plus, the course is so difficult. I'm just glad I could finish, let alone win.''
Carne was clocked in 16 minutes, 32.42 seconds for the 5K race. Lawrence High's Chris Williams finished second at 16:41.83.
Williams, and most of his teammates, have been suffering from colds, which made the demanding 5K race even more arduous.
``It's a tough race, even without being sick,'' Williams said. ``I've been waking up at 5:30 a.m. before school to get in some extra running to get ready for this event, and I guess it drained me for this race.
``But I had heard of him (Carne) before this race,'' Williams added. ``So I'm not disappointed finishing second to him. I knew coming into the race that he was a great runner.''
Williams' teammate Nathan Rahmeier placed 18th in 17:34.02. The two helped LHS finish fourth in the team standings with 183 points.
Free State's top placer in the boys race was Ariel Ludwig, who finished 39th (18:02.41). The sophomore runner was in 14th place at the two-mile mark.
Sophomore Sarah Underwood paced the Free State girls for the third meet in a row. She finished 15th in 20:46.21.
``She's doing a good job being our front-runner,'' FSHS coach Ward Brethour said. ``She stepped up to the challenge and is such a competitor. Bad weather conditions or not, she's a strong runner.''
Andrea Hemphill, a freshman from South Junior High, was the top placer for the LHS girls. She finished 42nd in 21:50.80.
Baldwin sophomore Megan Noonan was the top area placer. She finished sixth in 20:19.39.
As for Winzeler, a sophomore who won three track championships and the Class 6A cross country title last year, it took a last-minute surge to outdistance Riley County's Amy Mortimer.
The two were even until the two-mile marker, when Winzeler boosted herself up the final hill and cruised to a seven-second win.
But the win didn't come without penalty.
Winzeler spent the next half hour fatigued and disoriented, with fresh blisters on her heels, as teammates and her father comforted her.
``It helps when you have a great runner like Amy to race against,'' Winzeler said. ``But I don't remember the end of the race because my head was spinning.''
Rim Rock Farm will be the site of the Class 6A and Class 5A state high school championships on Oct. 31, meaning LHS junior Williams will have another chance to conquer rugged Rim Rock.
``I'll have to practice for that last hill,'' said Williams, who finished fourth in this event last year. ``It's a killer. But I just need to get healthy, improve my times and remember that Carne will be racing in Nebraska.''
- Results in Scoreboard