VICTORIA — For whatever reason, it just wasn’t Wyndom Giefer’s day a year ago in the Class 2A cross country meet.
After running well at state as a freshman and sophomore, Giefer placed 43rd in last year’s meet at Wamego as a junior.
"I don’t know if I was sick or something, but it was just kind of an off race," Giefer said.
A year later, the WaKeeney-Trego senior earned redemption in the sweetest way possible, wrapping up a standout cross country career with a state title on Saturday at Sand Plum Nature Trail.
Giefer won the Class 2A meet in 16:09.2, crossing first by about eight seconds over runner-up Gabriel Friess from Hoxie.
"That last mile, I was really thinking about just wanting to cap it off with a win," Giefer said.
The change of venue was well suited for Giefer, who enjoyed the course.
"I like it a lot better because Wamego is a 3 and a half hour for us, and this is only 40 minutes," Giefer said. "I had never run a meet here. My dad (Bernie), who’s also my coach, and I came here a few weeks ago and just jogged the course just to get a feel for it. I wasn’t exactly expecting where the harder parts would be, but overall, I like this course better than Wamego. I think Wamego’s harder."
Giefer said he was confident heading into the race, expecting to be in contention.
"I think there was like five of us that had ran similar times all season," Giefer said. "In cross country you can’t exactly go apples to apples in times because courses are all different. I was confident that I’d be in that group, and I was trying to psych myself into winning."
His time was about what Giefer had anticipated being good enough to win.
"My dad, we did pace work throughout the season, and he said if you run this, you’ll win state, which is always a nice confidence booster," Giefer said. "I was thinking if I ran that time I’d win. I was on pace I know for at least two miles, and I wasn’t really far off pace for the last 1.1."
Friess finished strong to take second.
"He’s in our league and we faced them for the majority of the season, so it was really nice to have him pushing me," Giefer said.
Giefer has kept family a strong family cross country tradition going. His older siblings, Bernard, Helen and Sybil were all standout runners at Trego. Helen was a cross county state champion and a two-time state champion distance runner in track.
"It’s been awesome (to keep the family tradition going)," Giefer said. "I always used Helen as a role model and I always wanted to win a state title like she has."
Friess (16:17.3) was followed by Stanton County’s Kamryn Golub in third place.
Ellis’ Samuel Pyle was eighth in 17:02.8. Plainville’s Chayse McCullough took ninth in 17:03.01.
After winning 1A last year, the Berean boys claimed the 2A team title.
LA CROSSE BOYS TAKE SECOND — Another local highlight was the La Crosse boys taking second as a team in 1A.
Blake Pierce finished fifth for the Leopards in 16:46.6, while Will Rues was 32nd in 18:49.8, Chase Schmidt was 38th in 18:56.4 and Rylin Anderson was 40th in 19:04.7.
"That was absolutely the goal heading into the year, we just wanted to place at state," La Crosse coach Kyle Schmidt said. "We ran great this year. Our ultimate goal was obviously to win it all, but our kids ran great today and bounced back after last week.
"We had a good race today. We had some PRs with some of our younger kids. I’m just really proud of the guys today."
Schmidt said his team enjoyed competing close to home.
"It was really fun," Schmidt said. "We were able to come out here a couple times during the year and practice and get used to the course and know what to expect. Showing up here close to home, not having to travel, I think really helped."
The Meade boys won the team championship with 30 points. Quinter was third with 70.
Hutchinson Central Christian’s Collin Oswalt won his second title in three years in 1A boys, cruising to a time of 15:56.8 while St. John’s Beloit’s Caleb Eilert was second in 16:19.9.
Osborne’s Reagan Bales took third in 16:43.2. Logan’s Sam Pinkerton took seventh in 17:06.1.
In the 2A girls race, Stanton County’s Chesney Peterson took first in 18:17.1, followed by KC Christian’s Alysia Wagner in 18:31.7.
Ellinwood’s Erin Hammeke was third in 18:58.4, while Hoxie’s Emily Diercks took fourth in 19:33.8.
Ellis’ Madelyn Russell was sixth in 19:38.6.
Oakley earned third place as a team in 2A, led by top 20 finishes from Jaelle Johnson (13th, 20:39.4) and Citoria Bosserman (19th, 21:04.4). Stanton County won the team title and Remington was second.
In 1A girls, Lincoln’s Jaycee Vath won her third straight championship, finishing in 19:20.0.
Doniphan West captured its second straight team title, placing three runners in the top 11. Elle Williams led Doniphan West with a second-place finish in 19:56.1. Lincoln was runner-up as a team.
Golden Plains’ Emma Weiner took third in 20:27.2.