Ginger Murnieks spoke with our Cody Thorn after her victory at Ray-Pec Invitational
The rich get richer these days, it seems. Lee's Summit West is coming off of a 3rd place team finish at the 2017 Class 4 State Cross Country Championships and third straight Class 5 state title on the track. Their distance squads are particularly solid already as they return front runners Madison Hulsey, McKenna Butler, and Addie Mathis with respective personal bests of 18:43, 18:53, and 19:00 anchoring the top of the varsity squad.
Now enter Murnieks whose recent move from Sprague High School, located in a southern suburb of Oregon's capital, Salem, has brought with her a 17:16.06 personal best in the 5K to go along with a 2:20.06 800 best, 4:37.62 1500 (4:58.03 1600 conversion), and 9:58.32 3000 (10:42.30 3200). She is now the only girl in the state of Missouri who can say she has run under 18:00 for 5K before and is already 55 seconds ahead of the next fastest among this year's competitors: Miranda Dick.
Saturday was her first race of the season after having to miss the Titans' first two races of the year due to eligibility issues. She ran it alone as the rest of the team rested up for their next showdown at the Missouri Southern Stampede, but even without her new teammates by her side, the senior showed no signs of nerves as she blazed to an 18:52.40 victory seemingly in her element on a rainy day and mud-soaked course.
"It's really hot and really humid out here," she mused about the change to the Missouri climate. "But (today's weather) was similar to how it is (in Oregon), but I like it. This is way better than (last weekend), I would take this over that any day."
This was a new MO #1 time and in the process she scored wins over Class 4 MO #1 Miranda Dick, MO #4 Mackenzie Stucker (Raymore-Peculiar), MO #8 Alexandra Hamre (Staley), MO #9 Marissa Dick (Ray-Pec), and MO #10 Elizabeth Stinson (Liberty North).
"It was really exciting (to get a win)," she told our Cody Thorn after the race. "I didn't know where I was going to be exactly - the courses in Oregon are a lot faster than the courses here - so I didn't know how it was going to feel. But I felt really good at 2 miles so I just went as fast as I could."
The addition of Murnieks to the Titans adds an even bigger piece to the Lee's Summit West vs Ray-Pec storyline we saw heading into the season. With three girls in the top 10 of our subjective rankings, the Panthers appeared to be the slight favorites over West with a tighter pack up front. But with the addition of Murnieks to the fold, the Titans now boast four girls at 19:00 or better and the fastest returner by almost a minute. And while Murnieks can only score one point at the fewest, with teammates like Hulsey, Mathis, and Butler, among others, picking her up, all Lee's Summit West needs is one more piece and they could very well be runaway favorites this November.
"(All of my teammates) were really excited (about my victory). I'm just really excited to start racing with them next weekend. They're all super nice and I'm excited to be on the team."
We also received some quotes from Head Coach Jesse Griffin on some of his first impressions of Murnieks's arrival and how she has impacted the team so far:
MileSplit: How did you find out about Ginger's transfer and what was your initial reaction?