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(Above, The Fremont Ross boys cross country team won the Myron Cline Invitational Saturday at Lakota High School.)

KANSAS – The Fremont Ross cross country coaches wanted their runners to get out front of the pack.

At Lakota’s High School’s Myron Cline Invitational on Saturday, coach John Elder told his athletes to set the pace at the start of the race and see what happens.

“We looked at Lakota as the met where we can maybe experiment with things, like Zach (Edmonds), for example,” Elder said, “We wanted him to go out and push the pace. One of the things the kids complain about is, ‘What if I die at the end?’ (Saturday) we said, ‘We don’t care. We want you to push the pace from the start and we’ll see what happens,’ and that’s what he did and he needs to start doing that….He didn’t die at the end. And the other kids didn’t die at the end. We know they can go.”

Zach Edmonds

Not only did Edmonds not run of gas, he ran away with the individual championship and led Ross to the team title as well.

Edmonds finished first with a time of 16 minutes, 34.46 seconds. Ethan McClory was third in 16:52.11 and Brayden Darr was sixth in 17:44.01. Isaias Ortiz finished eighth in 18:02.80 and Jack Thompson rounded out the scoring by finishing 11th in 18:31.20.

The Little Giants’ team total of 29 points was 17 points fewer than that of second-place Liberty-Benton.

Saturday, for both the boys and girls, served as a reminder for Elder, that the program’s cupboard won’t be bare next year when the seniors at the top of the lineup graduate.

“I thought we did really poorly (last week) at Tiffin and our boys’ fifth runner, Jake Thompson, reminded me, ‘I PR’d in Tiffin.’ We keep looking at Zach, Ethan and McKela (Elder), but we have some younger kids, like Mackenzie (Smith), Allison Taylor, Jake Thompson, Brayden Darr, Trenton Ward, who are really improving quite nicely and developing quite nicely. So, on one hand you think, ‘We’ll be missing our two top boy runners next year, we’re going to be terrible,’ but maybe not so. Our younger kids are really running quite well. And it showed (Saturday).”

The girls cross country team finished second at Lakota High School’s Myron Cline Invite thanks to three top-5 finishes.

Lady Giants place three in the top 5

The Lady Giants scored a trio of top-five finishers. McKela Elder won the race, finishing in 19:50.67, which freshman Mackenzie Smith placing second, in 20:08.33, and sophomore Allison Smith finishing fifth with a time of 20:44.75.

McKela Elder

But there was a gap of more than four minutes before Ross’ fourth and fifth runners crossed the line, Grace Egbert (39th, 24:50.20) and Nadia Kirksey (40th, 24:52.42), making Ross the runner-up in the team competition with 77 points, 40 behind the winner, Tiffin Columbian.

“(Assistant coach) Mark (Sheidler) and I were talking and (all season) it’s been, ‘The boys could be good, the boys could be good,…’ and all of a sudden, our girls can be pretty dangerous. Mackenzie Smith, is just running great. I keep telling her, ‘Start getting the number 19 in your head, because you’re capable of running in the 19s.’ And Allison Taylor is too.

“For our girls, we need to find two more that can run, hopefully, under 22 minutes.”

Elder was especially impressed by Smith who, as a freshman, has joined the team and, in just four races, become its regular No. 2 runner.

Allison Taylor

Mackenzie Smith

“We really thought the girls race was quite, quite competitive,” Elder said. “…I said, to Mackenzie, ‘There should be a nice pack of girls to run with,’ and lo and behold, she beats everybody and is second. Allison ran a full minute faster than she did last year at this meet.”

Tuesday afternoon Ross hosts Bellevue and Clyde for a tri-meet, “the Bellevue coach calls it The Battle of Route 20,” Elder said, which is slated for 4:30 at Walsh Park. Then, next Saturday, the Little and Lady Giants run at the Van Buren Invite, hosted at Owens Community College.

“I know the kids have positive memories of that meet,” Elder said. “So, hopefully next week we can continue that positive trend.”




Team: Finished first, out of seven teams, with 29 points, 17 more than second-place

Individual results:

Zach Edmonds, 1st overall, 16:34.46

Ethan McClory, 3rd, 16:52.11

Brayden Darr, 6th, 17:44.01

Isaias Ortiz, 8th, 18:02.80

Jake Thompson, 11th, 18:31.20


Team: Finished second, out of seven teams, with 77 points, 40 behind first-place Tiffin Columbian.

Individual results:

McKela Elder, 1st overall, 19:50.67

Mackenzie Smith, 2nd, 20:08.33

Allison Taylor, 5th, 20:44.75

Grace Egbert, 39th, 24:50.20

Nadia Kirksey, 40th, 24:52.42