Park Hill South senior Emma Roth was so far ahead, her only running companion Saturday morning was the all-terrain-vehicle clearing the way for the runners on the Raymore-Peculiar cross country course.
That ATV would stay well ahead of Roth, but as fast as she was in the girls’ varsity race during the Greater Kansas City Cross Country Classic, it wouldn’t have been a big surprise if she caught it. Roth covered the twisting 5-kilometer course in 18 minutes, 26.50 seconds, shattering her personal best almost 50 seconds and finishing 13 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.
“I just started feeling really good,” Roth said. “I really wanted to break 19 (minutes) today, so I just kept going with the pace I wanted to be hitting.”
Roth stayed in the pack for the first mile, sticking with runners she knew would run a pace similar to her own. She felt so good after that first mile that she began pulling away well ahead of Raymore-Peculiar’s Miranda Dick and Makenzie Stucker, who finished second and third.
The victory was the second of the year for Roth and her first since Lee’s Summit North’s Solsberg Invitational at Lake Jacomo during the first week of the season. She placed seventh at the Forest Park Invitational in St. Louis and 11th at the Rim Rock Classic near Lawrence, but during those races she was chasing elite runners like Blue Springs South’s Tori Findley.
Findley wasn’t at Ray-Pec Saturday, so all Roth had to chase was the ATV.
“I had my eye on that (ATV),” Roth said. “I knew I was never going to catch it, but it helped a little bit.”
Roth paced Park Hill South to a fifth-place finish in the 23-team field with 147 points. Liberty North — led by sophomore Elizabeth Stinson, who finished seventh — claimed third as a team with 135 points. Staley placed ninth, Kearney 14th and Park Hill was 16th.
Tyler Rodvelt of Staley placed fifth in a fast boys’ race. Rodvelt, a senior, crossed the finish line in 16:15.80 and led the Falcons to a sixth-place finish with 210 points.
Nathan Stinson of Liberty North took 10th and the Eagles placed ninth as a team with 234 points. Kearney finished 12th, Park Hill 19th and Oak Park 22nd in the boys’ competition.