Much to his chagrin, Lawrence High senior Chris Williams won't be able to list the Jayhawk Invitational title to his lengthy cross country resume.
The two-time Class 6A state boys champion finished second in the Jayhawk big-class race to Hesston's Justin Rempel on Saturday at Rim Rock.
"I really wanted to win this race because it was my senior year and I've never won it," said Williams, who finished the 5,000-meter course in 15:58.13. "I just got beat by a better guy today."
Rempel, running at Rim Rock and against Williams for the first time in cross country, won in 15:53.34. He pulled away from Williams in the final 800 meters.
"I decided it was now or never," Rempel said of his late surge.
Rempel, a senior, placed 10th at the Class 4A state cross country meet last fall. He swept the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs at state track in the spring.
"Justin is a really good miler," said Williams, second despite running his best time by 20 seconds at Rim Rock. "He has long legs. He's more physically mature than half of us out there. He's strong at the end. I couldn't catch up to him."
Said LHS coach Dick Reamon of Williams' race, "Chris probably pushed it too long too early. Chris is a super team kid. I don't have a better team squad person out there. He knows the advantage of setting the table."
The LHS boys, minus No. 3 runner Justin Riley, finished second in the team standings with 149 points. Riley underwent an appendectomy on Friday.
Senior D.J. Hilding placed 17th (16:52.08) for the Lions. Junior Ariel Ludwig placed 20th (16:56.67) to lead Free State, which finished 11th with 363 points.
In the girls' big-class race, Free State finished fourth with 184 points. Juniors Sarah Underwood and Jackie Dubois placed 18-19 for the Firebirds.
"We wanted to stay together and at the mile run our own race," said Underwood, who finished in 20:32.69 -- a half of second better than Dubois. "I think it really worked out well."
Free State coach Steve Heffernan was impressed with the performance by the Firebird boys and girls.
"We started comparing times from last year," he said. "And everyone was much, much faster.
"They've worked a lot harder. Their attitudes are better. They have some confidence. They enjoy being out here at Rim Rock. They're starting to believe they're pretty good. Just a couple of years ago, they were hoping to not finish last. Now they're in the mix of things. It's exciting for them and it's an attitude that's catching on."
Sophomore Andrea Hempill, 24th in 20:52.75, led the LHS girls entries.
Noonans pace Baldwin: Sophomore Matt Noonan and his sister, junior Megan Noonan, both received medals for Baldwin, entered in the big-class race.
"It's nice to have a lot of great runners in one race," said Matt, who finished 12th in 16:36.92 and cut off 1:50 from his Rim Rock time at Rim Rock last year. "I was nervous at the beginning. I just tried to keep believing inside that I'd have a good race."
Megan, a fan of longer races, placed fourth in 19:38.31. Topeka Washburn Rural's Cate Holston won in 19:15.91.
"I'm more of 5k runner," Megan said. "I have more endurance. And the hills helped out. Hills are good."
Small-class winners: Jordan Millam of Clinton, Mo., won the boys' small class race in 16:24 and Northern Heights' Janice Yingst placed first in the girls' small class race in 19:41.
In the team standings, Northern Heights placed first in the boys and Notre Dame de Sion won the girls event.
-- Steve Rottinghaus' phone message number is 832-7152. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org