Iola, Marmaton Valley runners on to state

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Sports

October 24, 2011 - 12:00 AM

Four consecutive years Iola High’s Roman Yocham and Marmaton Valley High’s Zach Louk have qualified for their respective classification’s state cross country meet.
Yocham finished seventh in the Kansas Class 4A Regional meet on a tough course hosted by Ottawa High School Saturday. Louk ran third on the Sugar Valley Golf Club course at Mound City in the 2A Regional meet hosted by Jayhawk-Linn High School.
Louk ran the 5K race in 17 minutes, 19 seconds, qualifying for the Class 2A state race Saturday. His younger sister, Ashtynn Louk, placed 21st in the girls’ 4K race in 19:51, which didn’t put her in the state competition.
Zach Louk earned state 2A honors two years ago with a 19th-place finish at the state meet. He was 41st at the state meet as a junior.
Although Louk is going alone to the state meet, Yocham will be joined by two teammates — sophomores Trent Latta and Tyler Powelson. Yocham ran the 5K race on a course at an old rock quarry in 18:10 for the seventh-place medal.
Latta and Powelson were among the first five runners finishing the race from non-qualifying teams. Latta finished 12th in 18:22 and Powelson was 14th in 18:31.
“It’s deja vu. In 2005, we took three of the five individual qualifying positions but did not get in as a team. That year it was Aaron Stauffer, Justin Baker and Devin Soctt. I had never seen that before and now it happened again,” said Marvin Smith, who has coached the Iola High cross country teams for 33 years.
Yocham missed out on a state medal a year ago taking 22nd. He was ninth at the 4A state meet as a sophomore.
Smith said for awhile he thought the Mustangs had qualified four with Jeremy Spears, another sophomore. He said two Chanute runners were between Powelson and Spears.
“There was a runner who finished but collapsed at the finish line. They tore his number tab off but he never went to the end of the tunnel and written on the back-up cards. So Jeremy was the first non-qualifying runners,” Smith said.
Spears placed 17th in 18:44. The Mustangs ended up fourth as a team with 86 points. Chanute was first with 64 points just edging a third Southeast Kansas League team, Labette County, which was second with 65 points. Paola was third with 69 points.
“We had a really good regional race, just not enough to get the entire team to the state meet. Our first four runners worked hard from start to finish. Christian Kauth, who is still recovering from an illness, struggled after the mid-mark,” Smith said.
“Jordan Strickler and Bryan Miller were eaten alive in the first 400 meters and had to work hard in an attempt to get around runners. That is tough ground to make up on a hilly course.”
Kauth, a senior, was 37th in 19:58 while Strickler, a junior, was 50th in 20:22 and Miller, a senior, was 51st in 20:24.
The Ottawa course has more and steeper hills than any other course, Smith said. It made everyone’s times slower but did not seem to have a major impact on order of places in the boys’ race. He said it did on the girls’ side.
“Girard’s number one runner was sixth or seventh with less than 40 yards to go when she collapsed, could not get back to her feet, crawled and even collapsed back to the ground while crawling. She finished 32nd and Girard missed the third team qualifying spot,” Smith said.
Paola captured the girls’ regional title with 41 points and Chanute was second with 56 points. Pittsburg took the third-place spot. Three teams qualify for state plus the top 10 runners and the top five non-qualifying team runners. Girard had 134 points for fourth.
Iola High’s Fillies had just two runners in the regional meet. Senior Sydney Owens ended her career with a 29th finish in 18:21 and freshman Jo Lohman finished her first year in cross country in 47th with a time of 19:21.
“Sydney had her best race of the year, matching her previous best time and finishing ahead of several girls she had not previously beaten,” Smith said. “She did do very well on the hills. Hills  also took a heavy toll on Jo’s race. Each time she climbed a hill it took her some recovery time at the top before she got back into a racing stride.”
Smith pointed out that Iola doesn’t have the type of hills the Ottawa course presents. IHS students run the hill out by Elks Lake each Monday, but it is not steep or long.
The Iola trio and Marmaton Valley’s Louk will go to Wamego Saturday for the 2011 Kansas Class 4-2-1A State Cross Country Meet. The races will be on the Wamego Country Club’s golf course.
Louk’s race begins at 10:30 a.m. Yocham, Latta and Powelson will compete at 11:30 a.m.
There is an admission charge for the state meet — $7 for adults and $6 for students in kindergarten through high school.
In the Class 1A regional cross country meet at Leonardville Golf Course hosted by Riley County High, Crest High’s freshman Brooklyn Gray-LaCross finished 28th. She ran the 4K race in 22:55.44.

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