Overland Park Paced by three runners in the top 10, Lawrence High's boys cross country team won the season-opening Overland Park Aquinas cross country meet Saturday at Johnson County Community College.
LHS senior Sarah Butler, who didn't run at the meet last year, won the girls two-mile race, finishing in 12 minutes, 10 seconds.
"This meet does a world of good to document where we are," LHS coach Dick Reamon said.
The LHS boys finished with 40 points. Shawnee Mission Northwest, which has won seven consecutive Class 6A state titles, was second with 45 points.
Justin Riley (third, 16:42), Dylan McClain (fourth, 16:49) and Andy Struble (10th, 17:07) cracked the top 10 for the Lions.
"It's going to be a head-to-head battle with Northwest all season," Reamon said. "It's nice to come out ahead for once."
Butler pulled away from Ottawa sophomore Lisa Morrisey in the last half mile.
"Sarah is a talent and this was a pleasant surprise," Reamon said. "She's a very fine athlete. Most of the time last year at this time she was playing club soccer on one of the elite teams in Kansas City. She never had a chance to showcase her cross country skills. This year she's not playing club soccer and she's showing how gifted of a runner she is."
Free State's boys placed third. Jason Jenny (fifth, 16:53), Hiral Bhakta (eighth, 17:04) and Justin White (ninth, 17:06) finished in the top 10 to lead the Firebirds, who compiled 56 points.
"The varsity boys team had an exceptional day," FSHS coach Steve Heffernan said. "While they finished third they have narrowed the gap between themselves and two of the favorites for this year's state title (SM Northwest and Lawrence)."
Free State's girls, led by Mallory Richardson (third, 12:25), placed fourth with 97 points.
"We had to find out how our new people would handle competition and they really showed up," Heffernan said. "Mallory Richardson had a very good day and with a little more experience at the front she should be able to drop even more time."