by Michael Smith
When Grain Valley sophomore Landon Barnes compared this year’s boys cross country team to the 2021 version, he said things were looking a lot better in 2022.
He said the team is closer than ever and it seemed that way at Saturday’s Sock It To Cancer Grain Valley Invitational at Grain Valley North Middle School.
The Eagles took second place in the Pink Division with 46 points. Raymore-Peculiar took first with 34 points.
“Our team is a lot closer and together than it was last year,” Barnes said. Between five, six and seven of our guys, our times are pretty close. I think we have a good chance of going to state.”
The course at Grain Valley Middle School was a difficult one, according to many of the competitors. Barnes said there were a lot of rolling hills, especially after the first mile. Even with that challenge, he was still able to take eighth overall at 17:11.7.
“This course is pretty tough and I came pretty close to my season best this year,” Barnes said.
While Barnes was the second Eagle to cross the finish line, Carson Hill led the way for Grain Valley, finishing second with a time of 16:31.9. Platte County’s Andrew Johnson was first with a time of 15:57.9.
Hill recently just came off a knee injury as he had to miss a couple of months of action in the preseason and regular season. He competed in just his third race of the season on Saturday.
“I am healed up,” Hill said. “A lot of people in the community were concerned and I appreciate that. It’s healed and I am building it back up in training.”
“I was pretty surprised that I got second. I never raced against the Platte County kid before. I was pretty happy with my pace, though.”
Rounding out the times for the Eagles were Rylan Smith (ninth, 17:15.7), Landon Blew (13th, 17:34.2), Andrew Bobzien (14th, 17:34.3), David Roberson (18th, 17:48.8) and Nathan Allen (19th, 17:49).
For the girls, the Eagles had an incomplete score due to having just four runners, five were needed for a team score. Blue Springs won with 28 points.
Lexi Nichsolson led Grain Valley with her 17th-place finish with a time of 21:26.4.
“I felt really good, actually,” Nicholson said. “I felt better than a lot of my other races. I figured it is my senior year, I got to give it my all.”
Rounding out the times for the Eagles girls were Jordan Gossage (18th, 21:24.5), Kayley Bell (20th, 21:39.9) and Kelli Stevens (24th, 22:25.3).
“(My time) was only a little off my season best,” Gossage said. “So I was pretty proud. This was a harder course.”
Grain Valley senior Lexi Nicholson finished 17th in the Pink Division with a time of 21:26.4. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Coming off a two-month long recovery from a knee injury, Grain Valley senior Carson Hill took second overall with a time of 16:31.9 in the Pink Division of the Sick it to Cancer Grain Valley Invitational Saturday. Photo credit: Michael Smith