Wilhite makes it a three-peat


October 15, 2021 - 3:51 PM

Drew Wilhite Courtesy photo

CANEY — Drew Wilhite is finding his stride, thank you very much.

The Humboldt High standout had been sidelined through the early portions of the the 2021 cross country season.

As he’s returned to action, his times have dropped and he’s steadily climbed to the top of the leaderboards.

He capped his senior year Thursday with a Tri-Valley League championship — his third straight league crown — finishing the 5-kilometer course in a blistering 17 minutes, 14 seconds. Wilhite was nearly a half minute faster than his nearest challenger.

He was joined in the top 10 by teammates Peyton Wallace in fifth and Levi McGowen as the Cubs also brought home the team title.

“The league meet turned out to be a great day for our program,” Humboldt head coach Eric Carlson said. “We had good weather and a good course to run on. 

“We were confident we could win but knew it wouldn’t be easy.  Drew had a plan to race with whoever was in front.  He executed that plan to perfection, staying at the shoulder of the leader until 600 meters to go. 

” At that time he started his kick and left second place far behind, winning by 14 seconds,” Carlson said. “Peyton and Levi also chose kids to race with and out-kicked challengers at the end.  Both ran close to their PR and did a great job.  The rest of the boys did great with three of the four setting new PR’s and providing the finishes needed to win our league title.”

This is Humboldt’s third league championship for the boys program.

Humboldt High runner McKenna Jones leads Iola’s Elanie Sturgeon down the stretch of the Humboldt-Iola Invitational girls varsity race in September. Jones took fourth, Sturgeon fifth. Register file photo

Meanwhile, a pair of freshmen spearheaded the Lady Cub contingent, with McKenna Jones and Anna Heisler taking fifth and seventh, respectively, with teammate Carsyn Haviland and Lulu Melendez not far behind in 10th and 12th.

The Lady Cubs took second in the final team standings behind Fredonia.

“Our high school girls knew going in they probably couldn’t catch Fredonia for first as a team so we focused on racing against individuals and finishing as high as possible,” Carlson said. “We felt confident we would be runner-up at worst and the girls did what they had to do to make sure that happened.  With three PR’s, a season best, and three All League performers, I couldn’t ask for much more.  The only unfortunate part of this meet for the girls is that we had three runners out sick, two of those were seniors.”

At the middle school level, Humboldt’s Thatcher Mueller took sixth, Layne Ellison eighth and Jack Works ninth in the boys race. Tori Melendez led the Humboldt Middle School girls, taking fifth, followed by Jo Ellison in seventh.

“Our middle school girls started the races off and ran really well, highlighted by Tori’s medal and Jo’s PR,” Carlson said. “I am proud of their effort and what they brought to the team this year.  Our middle school boys ran next  and picked up where the girls left off.  Thatcher and Jack demolished their PR by 45 seconds and all three of the boys ran a good race.”

Next up for the Cub harriers in the Class 3A Regional Meet Oct. 23 in Fredonia, with a berth at the state meet Oct. 30 in Wamego at stake.

Tri-Valley League Meet

High School Boys (5K)

1. Drew Wilhite, 17:14.0

5. Peyton Wallace, 19:20.7

7. Levi McGowen, 19:24.8

21. Brigg Shannon, 21:49.6

27. Cooper Woods, 23:25.7

29. Landon Bauer, 24:44.6

34. Colton Johnson, 26:38.4

Team scores: 1. Humboldt, 40; 1. Caney Valley, 40; 3. Eureka, 58; 4. Erie, 88

High School Girls (5K)

5. McKenna Jones, 22:19.52

7. Anna Heisler, 23:24.25

10. Carsyn Haviland, 24:53.02

12. Lulu Melendez, 25:42.74

16. Sophia Barlow, 26:30.96

19. Leah Mueller, 26:56.84

24. Peyton Galloway, 30:11.50

28. Brooke Yokum, 34:56.28

Team scores: 1. Fredonia, 26; 2. Humboldt, 50; 3. Caney Valley, 61; 4. Erie, 89

Middle School Boys (2 mile)

6. Thatcher Mueller, 14:35.0

8. Layne Ellison, 17:24.4

9. Jack Works, 17:31.2

Middle School Girls (2 mile)

5. Tori Melendez, 15:09.2

7. Jo Ellison, 16:41.7