Iola’s Yocham runs to state meet berth

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

EL DORADO — It was Mulvane High’s regional to win. The Kansas Class 4A defending cross country team was out to notch another 4A regional meet championship on its way to the 2009 state meet.
The Wildcats did win Saturday’s Class 4A regional cross country boys’ title at El Dorado State Park. But not by a perfect score, which is 15.
Iola High sophomore Roman Yocham got in the way of the Wildcats’ posting that perfect team score. Yocham’s fifth-place finish in the 5K race broke up Mulvane’s attempt for a perfect score.
Mulvane won the team title with 16 points. The Wildcats went 1-2-3-4-6 individually. Evan Landes won the individual championship with a time of 16 minutes, 18.81 seconds.
Yocham earned his second trip to the 4A state meet race in as many years. He ran the 5K race in 17:9.97 Saturday.
Unfortunately, Iola High’s Mustangs could not repeat last year’s team qualification for state. The top three teams qualify for state.
The Mustangs finished sixth in the regional with 148 points. Valley Center, 87, and Anderson County, 120, were second and third as teams.
“Roman was among the leaders immediately and after one mile, he trailed only the five Mulvane runners,” said Marvin Smith, IHS cross country coach.
“Roman moved into the fifth spot by 1.5 miles and no one challenged him during the rest of the race. He kept increasing his distance over the No. 6 runner (Mulvane), finishing 15 seconds ahead of him.”
Iola had a few problems getting to Saturday’s regional. First, illness prevented senior Aaron Cheung and junior Leah Weir from competing.
Last-minute replacement runner junior Dylan Lower made a dash with his parents after taking the ACT test at Allen County Community College Saturday morning. They got to the course 30 minutes before race time.
Smith said the Iola bus “got sick, too,” breaking down in Yates Center. He said they had to call back to have another bus sent to take the team on to El Dorado.
“Karen Toland came by right after we broke down and took Sydney Owens, Roman and Kent (Toland) to the race site,” Smith said.
Sydney Owens, a first-year sophomore runner, was Iola High’s only girl competing. She finished the 4K race in 18:38 for 40th place.
“She ran her best race of the year. She had ben in junior varsity races throughout the season.” Smith said. “There were 86 runners in the race and Sydney was strong in the latter stages, passing four runners in the the last 200 yards.”
Smith said the Mustangs had a very good start to their race. Seniors Kent Toland, Ryan Latta and Michael Middleton stayed together for the entire 3.1-mile distance and finished within 12 seconds of each other. He said the Mustangs had a pretty good regional race just not enough success to advance.
Toland was 26th in 18:19 as Latta took 24th in 18:30 and Middleton was 35th in 18:31. Senior Ryan Weir placed 49th in 19:04, Lower was 57th in 19:44 and sophomore Bryan Miller was 70th in 20:36.
Yocham, who earned 4A all-state honors placing 20th last year, returns to the state meet this Saturday. He will run at 11 a.m. on the Wamego Country Club golf course.