By RICK PETERSON
Even though he fought back late in the season to advance to the Class 5A state meet for the second straight year, Kory Sutton was never himself in the 2020 cross country season.
But the Shawnee Heights junior standout is healthy this fall and the results are proof of that.
"I had an issue with the growth plate in my hip and it put me out for about a year before I was back to full strength and ready to run,'' Sutton said Saturday after taking the boys individual title in the Topeka West Joe Schrag Invitational at the Kanza Park Course, Sutton's second win in as many races on the year.
Sutton made progress in the spring track season and now feels like he's 100 percent.
"I never was 100 percent (in cross country) and I was just getting back into it right before track season,'' Sutton said. "But I feel great now.''
Sutton, who opened his season with a win in the Bobcat Invitational, won Saturday in a personal-record five-kilometer time of 15 minutes, 58.84 seconds.
"This was one of my goals for this season,'' Sutton said. "I came out here on this fast course and got it done. Now I just want to keep going and get up there with the big guys.
"I'm really happy to be back running.''
For the second straight race Heights went one-two individually, with sophomore Jackson Esquibel second for the second straight week in 16:27.98.
"He helps me a whole lot,'' Sutton said. "He's one of my best friends and he helps me every day at practice. We hit the reps together and he goes out there and races with me and we just help each other out to get faster and better every week.''
Seaman finished second as a team to Lansing, which won by a 40-67 margin over the Vikings.
Senior Jace Moore paced Seaman with a fifth-place finish in 16:55.99, while senior Anson Appelhanz was 12th (17:46.84), freshman Alex Newell 13th (17:50.68), junior Landon Stuke 17th (18:25.54) and sophomore Adrian Swaim 20th (18:29.58).
Topeka High junior Michael Christoper narrowly missed a top-10 finish, taking 11th (17:43.17), while High junior Andrew Storrer placed 15th (18:18.09).
Senior Louis Wilson finished 28th (19:11.27) to lead Topeka West while senior Zach Clark placed 32nd (19:22.02) to lead Cair Paravel Latin.
JOE SCHRAG INVITATIONAL
Lansing 40, Seaman 67, Blue Valley 76, Shawnee Heights 85, Leavenworth 142, Topeka High 150, Topeka West 168, Cair Paravel 213.
1. Kory Sutton, Shawnee Heights, 15:58.54; 2. Jackson Esquibel, Seaman, 16:27.98; 3. Jackson Steger, Lansing, 16:49.61; 4. Kenneth Howell, Lansing, 16:52.07; 5. Jace Moore, Seaman, 16:55.99; 6. Jonathan Purvis, Leavenworth, 17:00.12; 7. Noah Summers, Blue Valley, 17:19.26; 8. Niklas Schintgen, Lansing, 17:23.14; 9. Austin Howell, Lansing, 17:29.98; 10. Nolan Rodriguez, Blue Valley, 17:31.18.
Other Seaman -- 12. Anson Appelhanz, 17:46.84; 13. Alex Newell, 17:50.68; 17. Landon Stuke, 18:25.54; 20. Adrian Swaim, 18:29.58; 25. Greg Lady, 18:55.64; 30. Ryan Buckley, 19:18.09; 46. Branen Moore, 22:12.48.
Other Shawnee Heights -- 23. Landon Staniec, 18:50.26; 24. Evan Carter, 18:50.94; 36. Mason Deitcher, 19:43.79; 42. Austin Schlink, 21:00.83.
Topeka High -- 11. Michael Christopher, 17:43.17; 15. Andrew Storrer, 18:18.09; 39. Caleb Brown, 20:25.20; 43. Jaxon Cowdin, 21:08.93; 45. Stuart Campbell, 21:24.23; 49. Luis Muniz Rodriguez, 23:35.96; 50. Jared Cassell, 23:40.07.
Topeka West -- 28. Louis Wilson, 19:11.27; 34. Kyren Padilla, 19:23.50; 35. James Maag, 19:41.55; 37. Elijah Phelps, 20:11.93; 38. Mark Wilkie, 20:22.35.
Cair Paravel Latin -- 32. Zach Clark, 19:22.02; 33. Jonah Eckert, 19:23.43; 51. Jacob Bowling, 24:10.38; 52. Nathan Walker, 25:59.59; 53. Bryson Leon, 31:12.45.