LAWRENCE, Kan. – Blue Springs muscled its way to the front of the pack Saturday at Kansas’ Rim Rock Farm Classic.
Blue Springs lived up to its No. 1 ranking in Missouri with a strong 155-point first-place finish. The Wildcats had the expected 1-2 scoring punch of Simon Belete and Steven Mugeche in third and fifth, respectively. The third scoring runner, senior James Barnett, finished 13th to add a potent low score to the total as he came in one spot ahead of Chaparral’s (CO) first runner. Chaparral was the second-place team with 196 points.
It is the first Rim Rock team title for Blue Springs.
“It’s a big win for us,” Blue Springs coach Frank Gallick said. “You know this is the top competition in this area and one of the top Midwest meets, and to get a win is pretty special. They always give me a hard time because I’m a KU fan and everybody else is MU, and they’re like, ‘We don’t want that Jayhawk,’ but I’m like, ‘I’d like to have one of those.’”
(Photo Credit: Michael Frazier)
The Wildcats will test themselves with their third large meet of the season when they head to the University of Minnesota’s Roy Griak.
“We’re trying to get in some big ones so when we get to state these guys will relax and run well,” Gallick said.
Belete started the race with the lead pack Saturday. He was a about stride behind Marquette’s Noah Kauppila when they got to the covered bridge about 1,000 meters from the finish.
“I felt like I was in good position and I was hoping my kick would be strong enough with about 800 to go, and I tried to make a move and it didn’t work,” Belete said. “Those guys just powered through it. We don’t start speed workouts until later in the season, so I’m hoping that will help with the kick that I have.”
Belete missed the first opportunity to race Marquette and Kauppila at Forest Park two weeks ago because he was taking the ACT. That gave Belete a little more motivation heading into the Rim Rock matchup.
“All week I was thinking I wanted to stick with Noah,” Belete said. “I didn’t care about time; I just wanted to run with Noah. And his teammate Adam, he showed me something I haven’t seen from him before; he looked really good. Now he’s going to be a contender at state that I have to think about.”