The Washington girls cross country team left no doubt who the fastest team in the Gateway Athletic Conference Central Division was Thursday.
Mikayla Reed was never challenged in the race as she paced the field to take first place individually. Mia Reed finished second and five Lady Jays placed in the top six, giving the team 18 points, three away from a perfect score. The boys team finished fifth with a score of 93 while Noah Little finished third individually.
Mikayla Reed’s time was 18:52.98. Mia Reed finished in 20:40.49. Following the Reeds for Washington were Morgan Holdmeyer in fourth (21:01.78), Claire Ayers in fifth (21:14.47) and Colleen Kuchem in sixth (21:28.27). McKenna Jacquin was the sixth Washington runner to medal, finishing 14th with a time of 22:30.7. Anna Sullentrup was 23rd at 23:28.37.
“That’s a great race, considering the Chile Pepper, the long car rides, we didn’t back off our workouts this week at all,” Head Coach Mike Olszowka said. “We knew we’d still be okay, but to come out and race this gutsy and this hard is impressive. They ran awesome from top to bottom.”
Mikayla Reed finished a minute and 48 seconds faster than anybody else on the course and a full two minutes ahead of the closest runner from another team. The meet showcased the level of dominance she will need to match up against Blue Springs South runner Victoria Findley, who finished in second behind Reed at last season’s state championship. Findley has finished ahead of Reed in two head-to-head races this season.
“Mikayla’s on a mission right now and she’s got a lot of work to do,” Olszowka said. “She looked great. She looked stronger than she’s looked all season. On this course, in this weather, that’s a great thing. She’s now a three-time cross country GAC champion. Just another little thing to put next to her name. It’s going to be fun to watch her through the state meet to watch her progress and see if we have a chance to catch up to Victoria.”
The rest of the team is getting its confidence at its peak at the right point of the season.
“This is when our program starts going the direction it should,” Olszowka said. “It’s been scary for about three weeks now for us and I think everybody is starting to smile and relax and believe in what they’re doing.”
Abbigael Woods, of Wentzville Liberty, was the only runner from outside Washington to crack the top five. Liberty finished second in the girls race with a team score of 52.
Little was the only boy to medal for Washington at the meet with a time of 17:48.28.
Though Little led most of the race, Ft. Zumwalt North’s Sean Deeken posted the fastest time at 17:22.25. Zumwalt North also won the boys team title with 34 points.
“I think he led for the first 2.5 miles,” Olszowka said of Little. “So, he’s learning and he’s getting stronger. Two years to go, but there’s nothing to say that this isn’t a year where he could be very successful for the next 3-4 weeks.”
Pavel Buechter missed a medal by just three seconds, finishing 15th in 19:09.45. He charged from behind to challenge a pair of Wentzville Liberty runners for 13th and 14th.
“Pavel gets out good, he looks like he’s falling apart in the middle of the race, and then he finds something deep down inside him that makes him just fight back,” Olszowka said. “He is just such a strong personality. An easy going, laid back kid, but if you’re going to war, you’ve got no problem picking him to be on your team because you know he’s going to give you everything he’s got in the tank.”
Ben Griffen finished 18th, Ethan Beers 29th, Tyler Lottman 30th and Ben Marquart 32nd.