Soph. Chappel medals at state XC to pace Buffs’ runners; Sosa just misses top 20

CROSS COUNTRY: Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020

Sophomore Devin Chappel completed a successful season on Saturday, Oct. 31, with a Halloween performance 12th place finish at the Class 6A state cross country meet.

Chappel, who had claimed the regional championship individual title a week earlier, clocked a 5-kilometer time of 16:54.54 to place in the top 20 runners and win a medal.

The Buffs’ sophomore was the highest-placing sophomore in the field of 103 runners and had just 2 juniors finish ahead of him while the remaining 9 were all seniors.

Senior Brody Hoff had a tough finish to his race, placing 45th with a time of 17:42.59 while sophomore Jocelyn Sosa just narrowly missed medaling by taking 24th in the girls race with a time of 20:08.69.

“With Devin, there’s so much there that he has not tapped into,” said GCHS coach Krista Linenberger. “He’s just gotten better as the season has progressed and he’s gained confidence with each meet.”

On a windy day at a new state site at the 4-Mile Creek Resort outside Augusta, the runners faced windy conditions, Linenberger said.

“The first 1,000-meters are pretty much uphill, and the finish has a 2-tiered uphill so it’s really tough especially when that start is directly into the wind,” Linenberger said. “Devin really did a good job of working his way behind other runners and getting tucked in to protect himself from the wind.”

Hoff got off to a strong start, Linenberger said, but ran into a bit of the headwind issues in the final two miles.

“He got into good position, but didn’t hang on as well as we would have liked,” Linenberger said. “When he hit that second headwind, it just seemed to really affect him. I know he’s disappointed, but I think overall he ran a really good race.”

Lawrence-Free State captured the team title with 49 points while Manhattan was runner-up with 57. Manhattan’s Daniel Harkin took the individual title with a time of 16:17.18.

Linenberger is optimistic about the 2021 season as Hoff is the lone graduating senior off the top 7 runners, and the Buffs just missed by one point of qualifying as a team from the regional the week prior.

“We certainly have a lot of positives in looking ahead,” Linenberger said. “When the race was over, Devin asked if any other sophomores had finished ahead of him. I told him no. He talked about future goals and said he wanted a top 5 finish his junior year and then wanted to win it in his senior season. Those are all attainable if he continues to work as hard as he did this season.”

Sosa, too, was within an eyelash of a top 20 medal finish, placing just 4.58 seconds behind the 20th place runner. Freshman Anjali Hocker Singh of Olathe North was the individual winner in 18:39.16. Olathe West (59), Blue Valley-Northwest (60) and Olathe North (63) were the top 3 teams.

Sosa did finish ahead of her Dodge City WAC rivals, as Serenity Wilson, the WAC champion, placed 33rd, nearly 16 seconds behind Sosa.

“She was a little more conservative in going out,” Linenberger said. “She moved super well in the second and third miles and just kept taking one runner after another. I think the fact she beat all the other Dodge runners puts her finish in perspective.”

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