Shryock excels; FSHS boys finish as runners-up at state cross-country meet

photo by: Andrew Rosenthal

Free State freshman Ben Shryock races with the top pack at the state cross-country meet Saturday at Rim Rock Farm.

It’s been a wild couple of months for Free State freshman Ben Shryock. Before August, he hadn’t ran a race at Rim Rock Farm, or anywhere for that matter — Shryock never ran cross-country prior to high school.

But on Saturday, Shryock led the Firebirds to a state runner-up finish at the 6A state cross-country meet at Rim Rock Farm. FSHS scored 98 points as a team after not qualifying in 2017.

Shryock finished fourth overall in the boys race with a time of 16:04, which marks the best finish by a freshman at state in school history, and second-best finish among any class.

“About halfway through the race, I was just picking people off, one by one,” Shryock said. “I just felt like I could keep going, and keep chasing them.”

photo by: Andrew Rosenthal

Free State junior Charlie Johnson races with the top pack at the state cross-country meet Saturday at Rim Rock Farm.

A state runner-up was the best outcome the Firebirds could have hoped for. Junior Charlie Johnson ran individually last year at state, but it felt different. Unlike Saturday, Johnson felt like he wasn’t running for anything bigger.

“John (Loos) and I made it our goal to make this a real team,” Johnson said. “We’ve got some fast freshmen and the whole team really stepped up. (We) placed first at regionals after not even qualifying as a team last year, and it’s been more than I could have ever hoped for.”

Johnson finished 19th with a time of 16:31 to take home an individual medal. Ethan Sharp finished 21st with a time of 16:34, finishing just shy of claiming a medal for himself. Running a personal best of 16:34, Sharp’s race impressed FSHS head coach Steve Heffernan.

“A year ago, he would tell you he wasn’t thinking about coming to the state meet, he was hoping to be on the varsity team,” Heffernan said.

Pacing the girls’ race for the fourth year in a row, Julia Larkin kicked her way to a medal with a 10th place finish at 19:36. Larkin becomes just the fifth Firebird girl to medal at state in each of the team’s four years.

photo by: Andrew Rosenthal

Julia Larkin (right) chases down Mill Valley’s Molly Ricker on her final kick. Larkin finished ahead of Ricker by three tenths of a second at the state cross-country meet Saturday at Rim Rock Farm.

“You have to come in and really be poised as a freshman,” Heffernan said. “She was a part of a very good team back then, so she just came in and ran.”

Holding strong at 11th heading into the final 100 meters, Larkin made a move into 10th right at the finish line for a photo finish with Molly Ricker of Mill Valley. Her time was just three tenths of a second ahead of Ricker’s.

“I love the kick, it’s my favorite part of the race,” Larkin said. “I don’t try and store in any energy, but I somehow found the energy to finish strong.”

The veteran girls group finished sixth as a team with 149 points. Erin Fagan and Emily Stone both ran sub-21 times, running with the top-half of the pack.

“(Emily’s) been trying to put together a solid race all season, and I know she’s been frustrated for portions of it,” Heffernan said. “Today, I saw her be aggressive all the way through the end.”

While Larkin’s storied career of state medaling was finished on Saturday, Heffernan believes a path to similar successes is just starting for Shryock.

“I still think there’s even more in there (for Ben),” Heffernan said. “It is (impressive). He’s got a lot of talent.”

Heffernan said a number of Firebirds plan to race in the Nike Cross National heartland regional on Nov. 11 in South Dakota. The top five individuals and top two teams advance to race on Dec. 1 in Portland, Ore.

STATE CROSS COUNTRY MEET

Saturday at Rim Rock Farm

Team Scores

Girls — 1. Mill Valley, 41; 2. Blue Valley West, 57; 3. Manhattan, 105; 4. Olathe North, 112; 5. Blue Valley Northwest, 142; 6. Free State, 149; 7. SM Northwest, 216; 8. Derby, 223; 9. Olathe Northwest, 242; 10. Wichita East, 247; 11. Dodge City, 265; 11. Doge City, 265; 12. Washburn Rural, 267.

Boys — 1. Olathe North, 51; 2. Free State, 98; 3. Olathe East, 104; 4. Mill Valley, 109; 5. Washburn Rural, 125; 6. Wichita East, 143; 7. Manhattan, 185; 8. SM Northwest, 191; 9. Blue Valley Northwest, 192; 10. Dodge City, 197; 11. SM West, 237; 12. Liberal, 317.

Free State results

Girls — 10. Julia Larkin, 19:36; 26. Erin Fagan, 20:19; 46. Emily Stone, 20:59; 51. Erin Liston, 21:17; 55. Madeline Day, 21:25; 57. Alison Babbit, 21:27; 65. Anna Riley, 21:42.

Boys — 4. Ben Shyrock, 16:04; 19. Charlie Johnson, 16:31; 21. Ethan Sharp, 16:34; 32. Jack Keathley-Helms, 16:55; 58. Brock Cordova, 17:18; 84. John Loos, 17:54; 96. Dash Spears, 18:19.

Area teams race for hardware

Baldwin earned a state title for its girls team in Wamego for the 4A races with Jana Landreth (ninth) and Ambrynn Stewart (11th) medaling. None of the Bulldog’s seven runners finished outside the top-26. Jacob Bailey medaled individually for the boys at seventh with a time of 17:13.

photo by: Andrew Rosenthal

Perry Lecompton’s Joshua Mitts races in the boys 3A race at the state cross-country meet Saturday at Rim Rock Farm.

Tonganoxie finished fourth in the boys 4A race, as Calvin Morgan earned a medal with a time of 17:31. Eudora’s Riley Hiebert and Reagan Hiebert medaled for the Cardinals as well.

Bishop Seabury qualified just one runner to race in the boys 2A race, which was also in Wamego. Henry Nelson, a junior, finished third overall with a time of 17:14.

The Perry-Lecompton Kaws had a runner qualify and race in the boys 3A race at Rim Rock. Senior Joshua Mitts ran right with the middle of the pack, finishing 34th with a time of 18:03.

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