Fatima Shocks Everyone, Findley Wins Big
"Fatima - They may be Class 2, but Fatima moved up to Green Division last year and almost came away with the team victory, finishing 2nd, a mere 13 points behind Blue Springs South. They only lost their #5 from last year's runner-ups and have already replaced her. Fatima will be a sneaky pick to make some noise in this year's race as well." - 'Meet Preview: Forest Park XC Festival (Sept. 8, 2017)
I wrote that on Thursday. And wouldn't you know it, they made some noise.
The Comets of Fatima High School in Westphalia, MO put together one of the most improbable victories in Forest Park XC Festival history, upsetting the understood and established norm that says "Class 4 is superior." They edged Blue Springs South by 2 points, exacting revenge from last year, and used a strong pack to get there. Brianna Haller, the 3-time state champion in Class 2, came across in 19:51 for 11th and was followed by her sister Kendall behind her in 20th (20:24). Fatima averaged a 20:46 through their top 5 and it wasn't just because Brianna Haller was sub-20:00. Alyssa Stuemph was their 3rd across the line in 20:39 for 27th and Kaitlyn Vanderfeltz was 56th in 21:22. Kailey Woody was the Comets' #5 on the day and she proved very important in the victory. Even coming off of a 2nd place performance in 2016, the victory by Fatima is nonetheless impressive as it shows just how incredibly deep of a team they are at the moment. Moving forward, it appears that they are the clear favorite in Class 2 as they could even be a podium contender in Class 3 or 4.
Those who were expecting a Findley/Reed showdown on Saturday, though the results may not entirely reflect it, were not disappointed in the Varsity Girls Green Division. The first mile was a fast one as Victoria Findley, the star senior from Blue Springs South, pulled the race through in 5:37 with Mikayla Reed of Washington just behind her in 5:40. The rematch of the top 2 runners at last year's state championships did not last much longer after that as Findley pulled away toward the middle of the race and had put together a 15 second lead at the 2 mile mark, coming through in 11:44. By the end of the race, she had maintained that 15 second gap as she cruised across the finish line in 18:39 to Reed's 18:54. Emily Griesenauer of Holt turned in her first ever sub-19 with an 18:57 3rd place finish and was followed, not closely, by Danielle Hotalling of Blue Springs South. Findley had prepared for and even feared a fast race off the jump, saying, "I think I had a second of doubt where I said I can't [run a 5:20 first mile]...but I was just like, 'okay you're going to have go with it. You might die, but it's worth it." Findley's fears did not come to fruition as the first mile was not as fast as she had heard it might be and she was able to dictate the pace more than she thought. Coming off of an impressive drubbing at Greg Wilson Classic where she won by 57 seconds in 18:16, she wasted no time proving that that time was legitimate as her 18:39 puts her 2-for-2 in sub-18:40s this season, an impressive start to her senior campaign. Reed and Findley will see each other again at the Chile Pepper Festival in Arkansas and we are excited to see the second installment of the 2017 match-up of the year.
In the other two varsity girls races on the day, Sarah Moore of Ste. Genevieve burst back onto the scene with a big 19:57 victory in the Gold Division. After a bit of a sophomore slump, Moore has already debuted an impressive 5K in her junior campaign. Moore already has two Class 3 all-state medals in her possession and has set her self up well for number 3 this season. Kylie Goldfarb was second from John Burroughs as she continues her stellar freshman season. Benton IL's Mia McClain was 3rd and Arianna Latuda came across in 4th for the Burroughs Bombers. Shawnee Mission West from Kansas pulled out an impressive victory in the team race, beating a rejuvenated Cor Jesu Academy 53-116.
Riley Schelp also regained some of her prior success, too, as the Lutheran South senior put together a great race and took the tape in the White Division with a 20:33. The Lancer, a former 19:18 runner, has shown in the past that she has the kind of talent necessary to compete at a high level. She beat Adrianne Bruckner from Bayless, Smithville's Mira Bannwarth, and defending White Division champion Aidan Sheffel from Battle. Smithville won the team title handily with 75 to 2nd place Lutheran South's 94.