It might have been a surprise for some, but not for the Monarchs.
Instead, it’s something the Thomas More Prep-Marian girls’ cross country team has been building for all season long.
Come Saturday in Lawrence, the Monarchs will get a chance to compete as a team in the Class 3A state cross country championships at Rim Rock Farm.
The Monarchs failed to get a girl through to the state meet in 2016. That didn’t hamper the effort this fall, as the Monarchs ran away with the regional title last weekend at Ellsworth.
TMP finished with 62 team points, which is made up of a team’s top five runners. That was nine points better than runner-up Scott City and 11 points better than Beloit. Norton, which was fourth last year at state, had to settle for fifth.
Juniors Julia Werth and Emily Schippers ran together most of the race and were separated by only a few positions at the regional. Werth was seventh in 22:23.26, while Schippers was 11th in 22:54.03.
TMP also got a boost from freshman Kyleigh Allen, who ran the course in 22:57.83 to finish 16th in her first regional appearance.
Juniors Kiara Urban and Emily Schulte also cracked the top 25, finishing 18th and 23rd respectively. Seniors Taylor Teel and Cheyenne Rhoades also were in the top 35 of the competitive regional.
Norton sophomore Lexi Kats is the area's top returning placer at state. She was second at the regional and fourth at state as a freshman.
The TMP girls will run at 11:10 a.m. at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, with the 3A boys’ race at 12:55 p.m.
The TMP boys’ top hope relies with junior Jared Mayers. He was 10th at the regional in 18:49.52.
Mayers was part of the TMP team that took fifth at state in 2016, when he finished 69th.
Norton sophomore Conor Hall is the top returning area runner from state. He finished 11th at the season finale and was third at the regional — one spot behind senior teammate Cale Patterson, who was 17th at state in 2016.
The Bluejays won the regional title on the boys’ side, three points ahead of Scott City.
While Hays High qualified only two runners for the 4A finale in Wamego, both will have an opportunity to bring home a medal.
Sophomore Yesenia Maldonado has been strong for the Indians all year and was sixth at the McPherson regional in 21:50.74. Maldonado qualified as part of the HHS team in 2016 and was 77th in 22:57.65.
Senior Tana Herreman also is making the trip by way of a 10th-place finish at regionals (22:13.74). As a junior at state, she was 90th in 23:47.23.
The 4A girls’ race begins the day at Wamego County Club at 10 a.m., followed by the 2A boys at 10:35 a.m. The 1A girls will follow at 11:10 a.m., with the 4A boys set to start at 11:45 a.m. The 2A girls (12:20 p.m.) and 1A boys (12:55 p.m.) will close out the day.
WaKeeney-Trego sends a family foursome to state. Sisters Helen and Sybil Giefer were sixth and seventh at state last year, respectively. Helen, a junior, won the regional title at Tribune in 20:39.76, followed her sophomore sister in second in 21:13.30.
The duo paced the Golden Eagles to a second-place finish at the regional, with senior Aleah Howard finishing 14th.
Ness City junior Savannah Moore leads the Eagles after taking eighth a year ago. She was fifth at the regional, a spot ahead of Oakley sophomore Danielle Allison and three spots ahead of Hoxie freshman Emily Dierks.
The Giefer brother duo of Bernard, a senior, and Wyndom, a freshman, helped the Trego boys qualify by taking third in the team standings at the regional.
Bernard was fourth in 18:37.05, with Wyndom seventh in 18:58.75. Bernard was 20th at state as a junior, the top finisher from northwest Kansas.
Junior William Barney also was in the top 11 for Trego at the regional.
St. Francis senior Jake Faulkender made a name for himself at the regional, taking the individual title in 18:33.13, just ahead of Wichita County senior John Biermann.
Oakley senior Jace Engel is making the trip to state, as is Plainville freshman Chayse McCullough. Both were in the top 10 at the regional. Oakley junior Wyatt Abell also is expected to have a strong state run.
Oakley was second as a team at the regional, three points behind Wichita County and two ahead of Trego.
Another state title is within reach for Sylvan-Lucas sophomore Autumn Princ. She dominated the regional at Washington in 19:36.43 and is the defending state champ.
Princ won the state title as a freshman by nearly a full minute over the runner-up finisher.
Wallace County senior Robyn Selzer will look to challenge Princ. Selzer was third at state last year and won the regional title at Tribune in 20:52.70.
Selzer paces a Wildcat team that qualified third at the regional, one spot ahead of Otis-Bison. Junior Gabrielle Hammer was 22nd at state last year and was 12th at the regional, and Otis-Bison senior Carly Welsh has been the Cougars' top runner this fall.
The Downs-Lakeside girls won the regional title at Washington, being paced by a pair of freshmen — Courtney Baetz and Mialee Miller.
Afftin Conway, who was 12th at state in 2016, was 14th at the regional for Osborne.
The Wallace County boys dominated the Tribune regional, winning the team crown with a mere 16 points. Victoria was fourth to qualify its team.
The Wildcats swept the top-two spots, with juniors Trevor Fischer first and Trever Medina second. Fischer was 10th a year ago at state.
Junior Richard Kaiser and Chandler Van Allen (26th at state in 2016) also were in the top seven to boost Wallace County.
Victoria’s top runner has been senior Christian Meuli, who was third at the tough regional, and Brewster junior Desmond Purvis was 10th. Meuli was 18th at state as a junior, while Purvis was 30th.
Osborne sophomore Cameron Delaney and Sylvan-Lucas junior Jonathan Huehl finished 10th and 11th, respectively, at the Washington regional. Delaney was 12th at state as a sophomore.