A change in racing strategy led to Washburn Rural cross country standout Payton Fink's first individual victory of the 2023 season in Saturday's Shufelberger Top City Classic at Rural.

PaytonFink2023 6Washburn Rural junior Payton Fink (600) runs with Junction City senior Lorna Rae Pierce (310) and Seaman sophomore Ryin Miller (498) in Saturday's Shufelberger Top City Classic at Rural. [Photo by Rick Peterson/TSN]

Instead of jumping out in front early, the Rural junior held back a little in the early stages of the five-kilometer event before taking control over the final mile en route to a nine-second win in 18 minutes, 10.1 seconds, one of three runners in the top 10 for the second-place Junior Blues.

"We talked about this before the race how the last meets I've kind of gone out too fast and then fallen behind so I just tucked myself behind and about the two-mile where all the uphills were I decided to make my move and tried my best to hold it,'' Fink said. 

Junction City senior Lorna Rae Pierce was the individual runnerup in 18:19.6 while Seaman sophomore Ryin Miller finished third in 18:36.6.

Fink said she felt comfortable with her new strategy.

"I felt really relaxed about the two-mile,'' Fink said. "My legs felt good, like they had something left in them, so it was nice to have a little left for the last mile.''

Fink said it also helped that she was familiar with the Washburn Rural course.

"We've been running this course the last couple of weeks and I've just visualized where I'm going to make my move and what mental thoughts are going to be going through my head during the race,'' Fink said.

PaytonFink2023 3Washburn Rural junior Payton Fink follows off her win in Saturday's Shufelberger Top City Classic at Rural. [Photo by Rick Peterson/TSN]

With the biggest meets on the schedule just around the corner, Fink said she feels good about where she is at this point in the season.

"I think so,'' said Fink, the reigning city and Centennial League champion and fifth in Class 6A last fall. "There's definitely more preparation to be done, get faster in the workouts, but I think we're on the right track.''

Rural sophomore Emily Graf (19:22.8) and junior Rylee Ismert (19:32.3) finished ninth and 10th to round out the girls top 10 in Saturday's 10-school meet.

Olathe West put all of its top five runners in the top 12 individually while winning the team title by a 42-88 margin over Rural, while St. James Academy was third with 93 points.

Seaman sophomore Brody Anderson and Hayden senior Aiden Amis posted top-10 finishes to lead the city contingent in the boys race, which drew 82 competitors.

Anderson finished eighth in 16:33.1 while Amis placed ninth in 16:40.8.

Washburn Rural sophomores Higgins Hawks (17:16.4) and Brooks Kehoe (17:16.7) placed 15th and 16th to lead the Junior Blues to a city-best fourth-place team finish.

Seaman sophomore Jack Walker also posted a top-20 finish, taking 18th (17:17.8).

Blue Valley West senior Brock Olsen won the boys individual title by nearly 12 seconds in 15:50.9 while Olathe West edged Mill Valley by a single point (67-68) to win the team championship. Junction City was third with 93 points while Rural was fourth with 111 points.

Saturday's meet was named in recognition of the long-tme service of former Washburn Rural cross country coach Scott Shufelberger.


At Washburn Rural


Team scores

Olathe West 42, Washburn Rural 88, St. James Academy 93, Mill Valley 117, Olathe South 118, Junction City 123, Seaman 139, Blue Valley West 207, Hayden 232.

Individual results

1. Payton Fink, Washburn Rural, 18:10.1; 2. Lorna Rae Pierce, Junction City, 18:19.6; 3. Ryin Miller, Seaman, 18:36.6; 4. Anna Fontaine, Junction City, 18:54.9; 5. Kate Miller, Olathe West, 18:56.4; 6. Kalyn Willingham, Olathe West, 19:03.8; 7. Amy Gotfredson, Olathe South, 19:05.5; 8. Bree Newport, Olathe West, 19:17.2; 9. Emily Graf, Washburn Rural, 19:22.8; 10. Rylee Ismert, Washburn Rural, 19:32.3.

Other Washburn Rural -- 25. Brooklyn Nolte, 20:35.8; 50. Kenzie Maddox, 22:04.1; 61. Kate Muir, 22:47.8. 

Other Seaman -- 22. Brynn Spencer, 20:24.0; 32. Stella Appelhanz, 21:03.6; 41. Savannah Sampson, 21:26.9; 57. Elinore Stallbaumer, 22:36.4.

Hayden -- 39. Eliot Wrench, 21:19.6; 47. Sofia Harper, 21:40.0; 58. Elaina Wolff, 22:43.3; 62. Ryann Newkirk, 23:00.7; 66. Kellyn Specht, 23:31.0.

Topeka West -- 42. Payton Rice, 21:31.1.


Team scores

Olathe West 67, Mill Valley 68, Junction City 93, Washburn Rural 111, Olathe South 121, St. James Academy 172, Seaman 173, Blue Valley West 190, Hayden 214, Topeka West 219.

Individual results

1. Brock Olsen, Blue Valley West, 15:50.9; 2. Dylan Plath, Olathe South, 16:02.5; 3. Carter Cline, Mill Valley, 16:04.2; 4. Gunnar Hornung, Olathe West, 16:19.7; 5. Dalamar Read, Mill Valley, 16:19.6. Michael Bianco, St. James Academy, 16:24.2; 7. Braxton Theel, Olathe West, 16:30.8; 8. Brody Anderson, Seaman, 16:33.1; 9. Aiden Amis, Hayden, 16:40.8; 10. Ethan Fontaine, Junction City, 16:45.1.  

Washburn Rural -- 15. Higgins Hawks, 17:16.4; 16. Brooks Kehoe, 17:16.7; 24. Max Gutierrez, 17:29.1; 26. Connor Olsen, 17:31.2; 30. Brody Tenbrink, 17:45.0; 37. Hayden Keller, 17:54.2; 50. Wyatt Shorb, 18:19.9; 63. Bodie King, 18:50.7. 

Other Seaman -- 18. Jack Walker, 17:17.8; 55. Jack Pekarek, 18:25.1; 56. Anthony Del Zio, 18:30.1; 65. Corbin Murrow, 18:53.6; 68. Drake Spurlock, 19:06.8; 74. Joseph Yorkey, 19:41.2; 78. Tristan Vila, 19:56.4. 

Other Hayden -- 41. Zach Moore, 18:01.5; 53. Connor Baldwin, 18:21.0; 71. Jonah Stewart, 19:20.7; 75. Palmer Heskett, 19:42.3; 80. Brody Beckman, 20:20.9; 82. Ethan Rochford, 20:38.3. 

Topeka West -- 29. Adrian Lehman, 17:43.8; 39. Elijah Phelps, 18:00.1; 59. Mark Wilkie, 18:48.1; 61.Tony Lloyd, 18:50.2; 62. Jayden Sigle, 18:50.5; 70. Ezra Phelps, 19:14.3; 79. Maxwell Cook, 20:17.1.


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