While only two runners donned Cyclone singlets for the home invitational, there was no shortage of competition.
Samantha Atchley, Ottawa High School cross country’s lone varsity runner Saturday, finished 16th overall in the girls 5K with a time of 24:15.04. Her teammate, Summer Spigle sat out the race due to injury. Chris Kornhaus, OHS head cross country coach, praised Atchley for her work ethic.
“Running is 90 percent between your ears, and if you come in every day with a good attitude, think positively and you have a goal in practice, then you are going to get better,” he said. “That is what we have seen out of her.”
Ottawa’s only other runner was in the junior varsity boys 5k where Mark St. John placed 24th out of 49 runners with a time of 23:41.17.
Olathe South took first as a team in both boy’s races, while Lee Summit West, headed by twice nationally-recongized coach Jesse Griffin, won both girl’s races. Griffin, an Ottawa High School alumnus, is the 2017-18 National High School Girls’ Track and Field Coach of the Year chosen by the National High School Coaches Association. He previously earned the 2017 Coach of the Year honor by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association. Saturday marked the first time Griffin returned to the Ottawa Invitational as a coach since taking the reigns of the Lee Summit West program.
“There are a lot of great memories here,” Griffin said. “I learned what work ethic is really about on this course. I was coached by, to me, a Hall of Fame coach. I brought our girls back here out of respect for him. This course is unlike any course we run, and we’ve got some hilly courses in Missouri. It is an opportunity for our girls to get that experience.”
The OHS cross country team is set to run starting 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Baldwin Invitational hosted at the Baldwin Golf Course, 1102 Main St., Baldwin City.