Last year wasn’t great for Wichita area cross country, but there are a lot of reasons to believe 2019 will be far different.
Here are the top 10 boys and girls cross country runners, as part of the Wichita Eagle and Varsity Kansas fall sports preview:
1. Michael Iyali - Wichita North, Sr.
A returning All-Metro runner, Iyali is arguably Wichita North’s top fall sports athlete. Last year, he finished third at the Class 6A cross country meet at 16:00.7, just nine seconds off the state championship. Iyali is the defending City League champion. He shaved 41 seconds from his GWAL-title time at state.
2. Ryan Kinnane - Andover, Sr.
Kinnane is the defending AVCTL II runner-up. He was just six seconds behind his former teammate Asher Moen. At state two weeks later, he finished fourth in Class 5A, a spot ahead of Moen at 16:12.4, which symbolized a passing of the torch. Kinnane was part of Andover’s All-Metro 4x800-meter relay team in track and field.
3. Tanner Lindahl - Buhler, So.
Lindahl is the only defending cross country champion in the Wichita area. Last year, he won the Class 4A individual title at 16:18.8, almost 37 seconds ahead of the field. Lindahl’s performance was critical to Buhler’s first boys cross country team title in school history. Lindahl was Buhler’s first individual champion since 2003.
4. Erik Enriquez - Kapaun Mt. Carmel, Jr.
Enriquez came runner-up at the City League championships at 16:53.00. Two weeks later, he came seventh in Class 5A at 16:27.9. He is the No. 2 returner in the classification.
5. Austin Fullerton - Eisenhower, Sr.
Fullerton finished fifth at the AVCTL II championship in 16:53.29. He also came in eighth at the Class 5A state meet in 16:28.5 and is the No. 3 returning runner in the classification. He is Eisenhower’s lone returning state qualifier.
6. Samuel McDavitt - Andover, Jr.
McDavitt was one of Kansas’ top 800-meter runners during the track and field season. Now he looks to help carry Andover toward a cross country title. He finished 16th in Class 5A last year in 16:36.6.
7. Trey Rios - Maize South, Sr.
Rios was the No. 19 finisher in Class 5A last year at 16:42.4. He placed fourth at the AVCTL II championship at 16:51.47 and will be the Mavericks’ best shot at a top-five team finish at state.
8. Noah Cole - Hutchinson, Sr.
Cole came in 22nd in Class 6A last year, finishing at 16:42.5 as the No. 3 runner out of the Wichita area. He also came runner-up at the AVCTL I championship.
9. Jack Walsh - Wichita East, Sr.
Walsh is the No. 3 returner in the City League. He finished sixth in GWAL last year at 17:12.00 and 29th at the Class 6A state championship meet.
10. Craig LaBrue - Winfield, Jr.
LaBrue was the fourth-place finisher at the AVCTL III championship last year at 17:01.66. Two weeks later, he was runner-up in Class 4A at 16:55.3.
1. Hope Jackson - Bishop Carroll, So.
Jackson was the No. 1 freshman in Class 5A last year, which said a lot as four freshmen earned All-Metro honors. Jackson finished fourth in the classification at 19:18.3. She is the defending City League champion; she beat the field by 53 seconds. Jackson will be the key to Carroll’s push for its first state team title since 2011.
2. Alexa Rios - Maize South, Jr.
Maize South has had an outstanding run of cross country success, and Rios is the latest installment. Last year she earned All-Metro honors and finished seventh in Class 5A at 19:40.5. Rios is also the defending AVCTL II champion; she finished at 19:31.17, about 12 seconds ahead of the field.
3. Kennedy Nicholson - Eisenhower, Jr.
Nicholson had a strong finish to the 2018 season: runner-up in AVCTL II and 10th at the Class 5A state championship meet in 19:51.8. She was vital to Eisenhower’s third-place team finish in 5A last year and will be crucial to getting the Tigers back after losing senior Alyssa Nelson.
4. Zoie Ecord - Maize, So.
Another freshman with All-Metro honors, Ecord finished 12th in Class 5A at 19:59.6. She was the No. 2 freshman in the classification. Ecord also returns as the defending AVCTL I champion. She crossed the line at 19:43.15. Ecord will be key to getting Maize back to state as a team.
5. Skye Kroskey - Wichita Northwest, So.
Kroskey flew under the radar as a freshman but returns as one of the top runners in the Wichita area. She finished fourth in the City League and 15th in Class 5A at 20:03.9. Kroskey was Northwest’s lone state qualifier last year.
6. Camille Behring - Bishop Carroll, Jr.
Behring was a key cog to Carroll’s City League title and runner-up finish in Class 5A last year. She came fifth at the GWAL meet and 21st at state at 20:21.5. Behring will be called upon to get the Golden Eagles over the hump.
7. Eva McKinzie - Wichita East, So.
After a tough finish to the 2018 season, McKinzie will be motivated for late-season improvement. She came runner-up at the City League meet in 19:50.00 and 27th in Class 6A.
8. Stella Foster - Hutchinson, So.
Foster had a strong finish to her freshman year. She was fifth at the AVCTL I meet and 29th in Class 6A at 20:28.7. In an outstanding freshman class, she has a lot of potential.
9. Vivian Kalb - Derby, So.
Kalb was another freshman with All-Metro honors last year. She finished 35th in Class 6A at 20:46.2 and third at the AVCTL I championship.
10. Mollie Reno - Cheney, Sr.
Reno finished 14th at the Class 3A state championship meet in Lawrence. She crossed the line at 20:55.4 and is the Wichita area’s top returning small-classification runner.
BEHIND OUR REPORTING
The selection process
Preps reporter Hayden Barber selected these players based on questionnaires sent to coaches, last year’s performances and his own personal evaluation and knowledge of Wichita area high school athletics.
More fall preview content