he depth of the fastest Platte County girls team in history truly showed off in the first round of postseason.
The Pirates finished fourth in the Class 4 District 8 team standings Saturday, Oct. 22 at Platte Ridge Park, advancing all seven runners to this weekend’s Sectional 4 race. To earn the spot, they won a unique tiebreaker rarely needed to determine placement.
Platte County had never before advanced a team to sectionals, last having a girls team finish in the top four at districts as a Class 3 school in 2010 to advance directly to state.
Platte County juniors Rebekah Geddes (district champion) and Jessica Clark (sixth) gave the Pirates a pair of top-10 finishers, but junior Lindsay Johnson ended up the difference maker. Johnson, who finished three spots behind junior sister Lauren Johnson, came in at 22 minutes, 1.90 seconds and Platte County’s sixth runner beat Liberty’s sixth runner by a little more than 8 seconds.
When the two schools ended up tied at 113 points in fourth place, Lindsay Johnson’s placement kept the Pirates season alive.
“It was really meaningful,” said Platte County senior Grace Gullett, the lone senior in the top seven for the Pirates this season. “I didn’t expect for it to be that close and come down to Lindsay being the sixth-place runner and being the tiebreaker, but it’s nice to see the whole team being incorporated into the score.
“Our top five have done phenomenal all year, and they’re still doing really good. It’s nice to know we can be there to back them up.”
Platte County will race as a team at Sectional 4 on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Jesse James Park in Kearney, Mo. as an underdog to earn one of four state berths.
A two-time all-state performer, Geddes finished in 19:02.10 to win the race by 33 seconds, while Clark came in at 19:58.60 to continue her remarkable improvement. Her times were at more than 22 minutes in last year’s postseason.
Platte County junior Erin Straubel (21st, 2:45.10), freshman Alexsi Elmore (41st, 21:40.30) and Lauren Johnson (48th, 21:50.30) rounded out the Pirates’ top five.
“Coming into this group, I knew they were a special athletes,” said Gullett, who has been a part of the team for two years. “It’s cool to be a part of this. We’re making history in Class 4 for our school.”
Platte County was eight points behind St. Joseph Central for third with Liberty North in second with 93 points.
Park Hill South’s girls repeated as the overwhelming District 8 champion with a team total of 48. Five of the Panthers’ top seven boast previous state experience, including junior Emma Roth (fourth, 19:52.30), senior Jasmine Crawford (eighth, 20:04.80), Marti Heit (ninth, 20:07.70) and Lexi Maddox (11th, 20:18.10).
Mallory Michel, a senior, and freshman Olivia Roth finished back-to-back in 17th and 18th to round out Park Hill South’s dominant effort. Neither were on last year’s state qualifying team — the first in program history — but seventh runner Keely Danielsen, a junior, did make the trip to Jefferson City.
Park Hill South swept the team titles in District 8.
On the boys side, the Panthers’ best six runners were all in the top 24, including top-10 showings for juniors David Rouse (sixth) and Ewan Frick (seventh). They ended up with a team total of 64 and were 10 points in front of runner-up and Suburban Conference Red Division rival St. Joseph Central.
Park Hill South just missed a sectional berth as a team last year but won the District 8 title in 2014 with juniors Eli Guzman and Frick and senior Alex Lee at the back end of the roster.
Platte County hoped to double its program firsts with the boys, but the Pirates faded to seventh in the team standings.
However, sophomore and returning state qualifier Jackson Letcher placed fifth, and sophomore Keegan Cordova also earned an individual berth to sectionals with finishes in the top 30. The Pirates’ youthful roster tried to calculate the times and placements needed to advance the team and lone varsity senior Jared Maksudian to the next round.
Maksudian placed 51st in his final race.
Cordova qualified for sectionals for the first time with a 27th-place showing (17:41.80). He called the finish bittersweet — positive because he ran the race in honor of his paternal grandmother, who recently died, but negative because junior Evan Edwards (33rd), junior Nick Bjustrom (40th) and freshman Evan McPhatter (44th) missed the cut.
Platte County’s Nos. 2 through 7 runners were all very close in times much of the year.
“It didn’t come together (for the team), obviously,” Cordova said, “so I was a little upset about that, but I’m happy.”
Park Hill finished ninth as a team with only senior Roman Ortiz (29th) advancing to sectionals.
West Platte finished up its regular season with six personal records and two season-bests on the boys side of the Richmond Invitational on Wednesday, Oct. 19 in Richmond, Mo. The Bluejays were second out of 11 teams with 81 points, 40 back of Kansas City East.
Max Davies again led the effort, setting a personal-best in 17 minutes, 34 seconds. He came in more than a minute back of the top two runners but was solidly in third place, coming off two wins in a span of three meets.
Andrew Cicha was 11th in 18:36, a season-best, while Phillip Pattison and Conner McNair were both in the top 30 with PRs. Justin Howard ran 20:27 to round out the counting scores in a season-best time.
Matik Heskin, Zac Howerton and Drake Stelljes also set PRs in the race.
On the girls side, sophomore Lea Moose collected a medal for West Platte in sixth with a season-best 22:17, and Rachel Heili (22:53) also ran her top race of a short season. Both runners came out for the team at the completion of softball season.
West Platte didn’t have any other runners, and only four teams had the five needed to post a qualifying team score.
Up next, West Platte and North Platte travel to Maryville, Mo. on Saturday, Oct. 29 for Class 1 District 8 competition. West Platte’s boys will seek a state record 17th consecutive district title and another state berth. Returning qualifiers for the Bluejays include Davies, Cicha, McNair and Howard. North Platte’s Tyler Meadows, Caleb Crumley, Mark Fisher and Zach Lee helped the Panthers to a runner-up showing at districts last year, resulting in the program’s first state berth.
On the girls side, West Platte’s Moose and Heili and North Platte junior McKenna Fulton and senior Shelby Fisher advanced to state last year. Heili and Fulton have been to state two years in a row.
Bailee Romaker, another junior for North Platte, and senior Katie Parkhurst also has previous state experience when the Panthers advanced as a team in 2014.