Welcome to Top Sports News

Rural star, D-I standout Morgan tops TSN Top 25 men's XC list

 

By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

Jacob Morgan proved himself over and over again as one of the all-time great distance runners in Shawnee County history, establishing himself as a superstar at Washburn Rural before going on to excel at the NCAA Division I level for both Colorado State and Kansas.

A two-time Class 6A state champion and four-time top-10 finisher for the Junior Blues, including an undefeated senior season, Morgan went on to compete in the NCAA Championships for both Colorado State and KU, twice earning All-Big 12 and All-Region honors for the Jayhawks.

 JacobMorganKUJacob Morgan [KU Athletics]

And while the TopSports.news Shawnee County Best of the Best Top 25 list is crowded with outstanding runners dating back to the 1960s, Morgan's impressive resume earned him the No. 1 spot.

Former Topeka West great Rob Hays, a two-time state champion for the Chargers and a standout at Kansas State, takes the No. 2 spot on the Best of the Best list while two-time state champion Grant Cain of Seaman, current Hayden star and state champ Tanner Newkirk and former Silver Lake state champ Chad Brake round out the top five.

Tegan MichaelmugTegan Michael [Saint Mary Athletics]

Topeka West two-time state placer Tegan Michael, No. 17 in the No. 25, was a runaway winner in the Readers Choice Awards, garnering more than 750 votes, while Morgan and Newkirk finished two-three in reader votes. 

Here's a look at the Top 25 and Readers Choice Awards:

TSN TOP 25 BEST OF THE BEST MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY RUNNERS

1. Jacob Morgan (Washburn Rural) --  Won back to back Class 6A state individual titles as a junior and senior for Washburn Rural (2010 and '11) and was a four-time state medalist, never finishing lower than ninth. Went on to run Division I cross country at Colorado State and Kansas, running in the NCAA Championships for both schools and earning All-Big 12 and All-Region honors twice for KU.

2. Rob Hays (Topeka West) -- Hays won back to back 6A state individual titles in 1983 and '84 for Topeka West and went on to become a standout for Kansas State, running in the NCAA Championships and earning All-Big 8 honors twice in the steeplechase.

3. Grant Cain (Seaman) -- Cain was a two-time 5A individual state champion (2003 and '04) for Seaman, leading the Vikings to second-place team finishes both seasons.

4. Tanner Newkirk (Hayden) -- Newkirk is already a Class 4A state champion, a runner-up and a three-time state medalist and still has a year of high school cross country remaining for Hayden.

5. Chad Brake (Silver Lake) -- The former Silver Lake star was a three-time 3A state medalist, winning the state title in 1992 after finishing fourth in '90 and fifth in '91. Brake went on to run at Pittsburg State.

6. Jacob Klemz (Hayden) -- Klemz was a three-time 4A state medalist for Hayden, with a best of third place, and went on to earn All-America honors for Washburn University before transferring to Division I Portland, where he competed in the NCAA Championships.

7. Matt Swedlund (Washburn Rural) -- Swedlund, who ran at Kansas State, was a three-time 6A state medalist for Washburn Rural, including fourth and fifth-place finishes, and coached the Junior Blues to the 2019 6A state boys team title.

8. Chuck Copp (Washburn Rural) -- Copp was the first Washburn Rural athlete to win a state cross country individual title, earning the Class A crown in 1967. 

9. Brent Swanson (Topeka West) -- Swanson captured the 4A state individual title in 1975, leading the Chargers to a second-place team finish.

10. Cory Barron (Topeka West) -- Barron was the 4A individual champion in 1976, leading Topeka West to a second-place team finish.

11. Matt Peacock (Hayden) -- Peacock won a state individual title in 4A for Hayden in 1992, leading the Wildcats to the state team championship.

12. Chris Currie (Washburn Rural) -- Currie followed Copp as an individual state champion for Washburn Rural, claiming the 5A title in 1982.

13. Robbie Schmidt (Hayden) -- Schmidt was a three-time 4A state medalist for Hayden, with fifth and ninth-place finishes, and went on to run for Fort Hays State.

14. Dawson Podlena (Seaman) -- A three-sport standout for Seaman, Podlena was a three-time 5A state medalist in cross country, with a high finish of seventh.

15. Jon Hays (Topeka West) -- Hays was a multiple-time 6A state placer for Topeka West, including a ninth-place finish in 1986 and an eighth in '87. .

16. Clay Schneider (Seaman) -- Schneider finished second in 5A in 2006 for the Vikings and went on to run at Kansas.

17. Tegan Michael (Topeka West) -- .Michael was a two-time 5A state placer for Topeka West, finishing 13th in 2009 and fourth in '10. Went on to run at Allen County Community College and the University of Saint Mary.

18. Rylan Brown (Washburn Rural) -- Brown was a two-time 6A state medalist for Washburn Rural and helped lead the Junior Blues to the state team title as a senior in '19, finishing eighth individually.  

19. Caleb Wright (Washburn Rural) -- Wright helped Washburn Rural win the 6A team championship as a senior in 2019, placing a team-high sixth individually.

20. Jordan Lacore (Hayden) -- Lacore placed third in 4A for Hayden in 2001 and seventh in '00. 

21. Jerod Barker (Silver Lake) -- Barker was a three-time state medalist for Silver Lake in 3A, including third and seventh-place finishes.

22. Kyler Kaniper (Silver Lake) -- Kaniper was the 3A runner-up for Silver Lake as a senior in the 2019 state meet, leading the Eagles to a runner-up team finish. Kaniper was a two-time state medalist.

23. Pierce Flanders (Washburn Rural) -- Flanders was a two-time 6A state medalist for Washburn, posting sixth and ninth-place finishes, and went on to run at Kansas State.

24. Maliki Pope (Seaman) -- Pope was a two-time 5A state medalist for the Vikings, placing 12th in 2017 and 10th in '18 before going on to run at Southwestern. 

25. Lenny Njoroge (Topeka West) -- Njoroge has already earned 5A state medals as a freshman and sophomore with two years of eligibility remaining.

READERS CHOICE AWARDS

1. Tegan Michael -- No. 17 in TSN Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

2. Jacob Morgan -- No. 1 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

3. Tanner Newkirk -- No. 4 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

4. Caleb Wright -- No. 19 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

5. Riley Stowers  -- Was a senior member of Seaman's cross country team in 2020.

6. Rob Hays --  No. 2 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

7. Matt Swedlund -- No. 7 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

8. Dawson Podlena -- No. 14 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

9. Maliki Pope -- No. 24 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

10. Jacob Klemz -- No. 6 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

Next up: Football Top 25 Best of the Best and Readers Choice Awards.