Yocham claims SEK cross country title

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Iola High’s Roman Yocham (77) begins to pull in front of two Chanute High runners — Justin Lawrence (51) and Trevor Summers (55) at Thursday’s Southeast Kansas League cross country meet. Yocham won the SEK individual championship on Chanute’s Quarry Stone Golf Course.
Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Iola High’s Leah Weir (22) stays ahead of a Fort Scott High runner during Thursday’s Southeast Kansas League girls’ varsity cross country race. Weir, in her first year of competition, finished 22nd on the course at Chanute.

CHANUTE — For the second year in a row, the individual Southeast Kansas League boys’ varsity cross country champion is from Iola High School.
Sophomore Roman Yocham proved to be the master of cold, windy weather and a very soggy cross country course Thursday. Yocham led Iola High’s Mustangs to a second-place finish at the 2009 Southeast Kansas League cross country meet in Chanute.
“Roman had an excellent race and a very good team. The Chanute course is not hilly but we had a lot muddy areas and that cuts into the time,” said Marvin Smith, IHS cross country coach.
Yocham ran the 5K race on the Quarry Stone Golf Course in 17 minutes 28 seconds. Yocham, who had placed third a year ago as the top freshman finish for IHS in a SEK meet, follows Nate Pope, who won the 2008 individual title.
The Mustangs weren’t able to defend their SEK team title. Chanute won the team championship on its home course with 47 points. Iola scored 68 points followed by Independence with 71, Labette County with 82, Pittsburg with 94, Parsons with 156 and Fort Scott with 167.
“We almost took ourselves out of the race in the first 300 yards by a slow beginning. We had hoped to challenge Chanute if they had an off day or a top runner was sick. That didn’t happen,” Smith said.
“Only Roman took off with the leaders and these are kids we have raced against three or four times this year.”
The top 10 finishers claimed All-SEK League honors while those that placed 11th through 20th were honorable mention.
Joining Yocham as an All-SEK League runner was senior Kent Toland. Toland came on at the end to finish 10th in 18:29. Senior Ryan Latta earned SEK honorable mention finishing 13th in 18:36.
Seniors Michael Middleton and Aaron Cheung were just outside honorable mention. Middleton ran 21st in 19:08 and Cheung was 23rd in 19:10. Sophomore Bryan Miller was 30th in 19:58 and junior Dylan Lower took 31st in 20:10.
Smith said Latta saved the Mustangs’ team finish. He said Latta moved from 24th to 13th during the second mile of the race.
“Michael and Aaron also passed runners on the downhill finish that helped us finish second,” Smith said.
Illness has hampered the Mustangs this season. Senior Ryan Weir was bumped to the junior varsity race because of his extended illness. Miller, Lower and Toland were slowed by illness this week.
Three junior varsity runners were out because of illness and four because of foot or leg injuries.
The girls’ varsity championship went to Pittsburg High for the eighth time in nine years. Paige Miller led the Purple Dragons by winning the 4K race in 15:56.
Iola’s first-year junior Leah Weir ran a personal-best time of 18:34 to finish 22nd. Sydney Owens, a first-time sophomore runner, took 27th and sophomore Jennica Rausch finished 37th in 21:42.
Rausch has been hampered with health problems this season and junior Kristen Linn did not run Thursday because of illness.
“Leah ran well on a muddy course. Sydney has little experience and never put herself in a good position during the race. She did move from 36th to 27th,” Smith said.
Iola had its seniors run in the boys’ junior varsity race. The SEK does not award medals to seniors in the race.
Junior Josh Klubek took the second-place medal after finishing fifth overall in the race in 20:25. Freshman Jordan Strickler placed 10th overall and was awarded the seventh-place medal for his time of 20:55.
Ryan Weir was second in the race but as a senior did not place in the medals. His time was 19:22. Senior Seth Kristalyn was fourth in 19:59 and senior Chris Harrington was 11th in 21:16. Senior Dustin Jones placed 31st in 24:00.
Sophomores Matthew Cunningham and Tyler Shelby went 35th and 36th. Both had a time of 24:50 for the 5K race. Lee Berg was 39th in 26:24.
Next for the Mustangs and Fillies is the Class 4A regional meet at El Dorado State Park. The girls run at 2 p.m followed by the boys.