The Mill Valley Cat Classic on Thursday featured some talented runners from the area, but it didn’t include boys Joe Coddington, Asher Molina, Ben Tyrrell and girls Katie Kasunic, Cassie Raines, Amber Reed or any of Shawnee Mission North’s varsity runners.
Instead, coach Aaron Davidson decided to give the boys and girls the week off as they prepare for the Sunflower League meet, regionals and state.
“Last year was our first year taking this week off and it’s the last week before the final stretch of the big three — league, regionals and state,” Davidson said. “It paid off for us last year. We swept the guys and girls at Sunflower League. ‘Why wouldn’t we do it again,’ is the thinking behind it.
“To give our kids a break. Racing 5K every week is a lot. A break isn’t a bad thing.”
SM North also swept regionals on their way to a third-place finish for the girls at state — they were one point away from first — and a fifth-place showing for the boys.
The Indians have been focusing on themselves this season instead of the competition. Last year, they got sucked into everything that was going on. The attention was on them and they were trying to live up to the hype.
Davidson doesn’t mind not hearing the chatter this year. He said it was fun last year, but it’s nice to fly under the radar a bit this year.
While it’s easy to focus on the runners at the front of the pack — Coddington, Reed, Kasunic and Raines — Davidson isn’t worried about times, but rather positioning.
“We have the kids to run up at the front, but we’re really focusing on the mid-pack,” Davidson said. “Of course we need front runners, but good teams have good 3-4-5 runners and that’s what we’ve tried to do this year is build up that group and focus on our gaps and close those down.
“That’s what we’ve studied each week. We talk about it, we look at it; that’s been our focus. I don’t care much about our race times as much as I do as how we finish with our gaps and our team splits.”
Freshman Lillianne Winston was the only girl to compete for SM North in the 5,000-meter varsity race and she placed 53rd in 25:22.76.
As for the boys, they finished last as a team, but the junior varsity runners saw a taste of varsity-level running.
Junior Isaac Diggs led the way with a 45th place finish in 19:13.77. Junior Eric Kyle was 50th followed by sophomore Sebastian Garcia in 63rd and senior Sam Thompson in 68th.