Even heavy rain couldn’t slow down West Platte in the KCI Conference Championships over the weekend.
The Bluejays swept the two team titles Saturday, Oct. 14 at Platte Ridge Park near Platte City. The weather cleared by the end of the race with the sun shining on the new champions.
Max Davies won the individual KCI title for West Platte, while senior Rachel Heili made a triumphant return to aid the Bluejays’ girls.
A junior, Davies won his second straight league crown in dominating fashion. He finished in 17 minutes, 37.1 seconds — just off his career-best time — and topped Lawson sophomore Grady Blair by more than 30 seconds.
West Platte sophomore Phillip Pattison (fourth, 18:50.8) and senior Andy Cicha (ninth, 19:38.7) joined Davies on the all-conference team. The Bluejays totaled 56 points behind the trio of top-10 finishers, bettering Lawson by eight points.
The top four schools were within 12 points of each other, making Davies’ first-place finish that much more important.
“The kids know they can count on him to be up front and everybody can see the opportunities for him as an individual and us as a team if he pushes the envelope down to the low 17s on a regular basis,” West Platte coach Mike Lowe said.
North Platte ended up third overall with 66 points, just two back of Lawson and two in front of East Buchanan.
Tyler Meadows (seventh, 19:30) and Zach Lee (eighth, 19:36) — both juniors — came in back-to-back and earned All-KCI honors to lead North Platte. Joe DeMarcus, another junior, finished 17th to help push the Panthers up the standings.
The challenges now separate for the two teams.
North Platte competes in Class 2 District 8 on Saturday, Oct. 28 in Kearney, Mo. after having no qualifiers a year ago. West Platte finishes the regular season Wednesday, Oct. 18 in Richmond, Mo. and then looks to extend the program’s state record of consecutive district titles to 18 straight in the Class 1 District 8 meet Saturday, Oct. 28 in Smithville, Mo.
After the run at the KCI Conference Championships, West Platte’s girls will have a state berth in mind during the postseason, too.
Lexi Elmore, a sophomore transfer from Platte County, continued to pace the Bluejays, finishing second overall in 22:03, while freshman Sophia Rush set a personal best for a third straight meet, taking fourth in 22:24. However, Heili’s return plus the performances of juniors Lea Moose and Lindsay Goodwin after all three finished up softball season allowed the team to win the first league title in program history.
West Platte totaled 34 points to beat Lawson by 12.
Elmore, Rush and Goodwin (seventh, 23:19) all earned all-conference honors, while Moose and Heili were 13th and 14th for West Platte to round out the team score. Goodwin and Moose ran earlier in the season, but this marked the first race of the season for Heili, a two-time individual state qualifier.
“Huge confidence boost, especially for the girls,” Lowe said. “For Rachel and Lea to know that the team can be successful with them running in the 24s is a huge stress relief for them, and they can just concentrate on running.
“Great boost for the team overall as they know they can beat their closest competition.”
North Platte ended up fourth in the standings out of six qualifying teams with 101 but well back of the top two and 21 behind third-place Mid-Buchanan.
Bailee Romaker, a senior, was the Panthers’ top finisher, placing 12th overall. McKenna Fulton, a senior and three-time state qualifier, followed in 18th — one spot behind freshman and No. 6 runner for West Platte Katy Tharp.