Fifteen minutes, forty-eight seconds became an obsession for Hannah Matsui.
The time is the school record at South for a 4-kilometer girls cross country race and the sophomore etches it into her mind before every race, including Saturday morning at the Winfield Invitational.
So when she fended off the temptation of slowing down and kept running across the finish line in first place, her first victory, Matsui asked anyone with a stopwatch what her time was.
Then she heard it: 15 minutes, 34 seconds.
“I wanted to stop so bad, but I knew I had it,” Matsui said. “I knew I couldn’t slow down, so every time I wanted to, I just went faster instead. I was going to beat that record and today was the day.”
South’s groundbreaking day wasn’t done there. The boys team won its first team title in “who knows how long,” according to second-year coach Betsey Goering, behind a sixth-place finish from Tony Matsui (16:27) and a pack of John Castellaw (17:12), Rayce O’Hair (17:26), Toby VanCleave (17:31) and Kaden Griffin (17:31).
“It was a pretty crazy feeling,” O’Hair said. “It’s really exciting because we worked hard for this and now it makes it seem like we can do even better.”
Winfield won the girls team title by five points over Goddard Eisenhower, putting six runners in the top 13. The Tigers, spurred on by freshman Brynn Suddeth’s second-place finish in 16:00, have continued to surprise this season.
“It feels amazing for the team to run like this,” Suddeth said. “I never thought I was going to be up there ahead of some of these runners. I was thinking I would be closer to the No. 7 runner instead of No. 1.”
South edged Winfield by four points, despite the Vikings’ top three of Josh Hanna (first, 15:55), Riley Osen (third, 16:13) and Colby Kromminga (seventh, 16:54).
Andale’s Jacob Wallace, who challenged Hanna throughout the race before settling for second in a career-best 16:05, is also on the hunt for a school record.
“It has to be an obsession,” said Wallace. “You have to write it down so you can see it all the time and basically do the whole Prefontaine thing.”
Wallace was 12 seconds short of Andale’s record of 15:53. It’s an unsatisfying feeling, Wallace said, when you run well but fall short of your goal.
“I’m not happy, but I’ll settle for it because I know I’m not done,” Wallace said. “I’m still coming after that record.”