Mullen Siblings Conquer State

NW XC State Team capped their season off with two runners finishing in the top 15 at Rim Rock


Claire Moore

With medal in her hands, freshman Paige Mullen walks up the the winners stand Nov 2 at Rim Rock Farms. Mullen placed 10th overall with a time of 19:12.10.

Michael Owens, Staff Writer

The Shawnee Mission Northwest State Cougars Cross Country Team competed in the open-air course over natural terrain at Rim Rock in Lawrence. Rim Rock has been known as the hardest course a Kansas City Area runner will tackle all year, but Coach Stigge and his runners aren’t worried about it.

“I think there are people who just think it’s really hard. It has a reputation of having a lot of hills on it, but we actually have more hills around Northwest than that course does”, Stigge said. “That’s why we typically run relatively well on that course. I think more than anything, people think it’s harder than it is. I think our kids approach it with a good attitude. I mean, it’s like running around here any day of the week.” The forecasted temperature during the competition is in the mid forties. Coach Stigge isn’t worried about the cold weather. “We are a cold weather sport and love the lower temperatures”, Coach Stigge said.

The boys’ team is made up largely of underclassmen, so Team Captain Senior Ryder Jarrett has taken leadership lessons from NW Head Football Coach this season. “I’m trying to motivate them, because they’re so new to this level of competition. We really need them to perform and run well, so I try and give them some advice, Jarrett said. “We just try to stick to being a family,”.

Jarrett is going to handle this meet as he handles every race. “ I go out and try my best and see how it goes. It is special because it is the state meet and there are a lot more fans cheering you on. It is a different culture and it is a lot more difficult to run. It’s more sentimental to me and I tend to run a little bit faster even though the course is harder, “ Jarrett said.

Senior Amy Kowalczewski will be competing in her final race as a Cougar. “I’m gonna push as hard as I can and every time I run up a hill, I’m going to be thinking this is the last time I have to run that hill,” Kowalczewski said. She knows that if she can get past the first challenge of the course, then she can really take control of the race. “ After the first mile, there is a huge hill. Once you have mastered that hill, then the race starts to get like any other race” Kowalczewski said.

The outstanding seniors, Amy Kowalczewski and Ryder Jarrett did not accomplish what they set out to do at the state competition. Kowalczewski didn’t place where she wanted to and Jarrett was unable to compete due to an injury, Their leadership was irreplaceable to the entire team this year.

The sibling dynamic duo of Freshman Paige Mullen and Junior Shane Mullen were outstanding at the state meet. Paige finished in tenth place and Shane finished in twelve place.

Coach Stigge will miss his seniors after this year and is very grateful for their leadership. He is also very excited for what the future holds for his young runners.

“ Many of the kids on our team have at least two more years remaining if not three. It is exciting when they finish the meet and immediately ask how they can place in a higher position next year. If they are satisfied with whatever they placed in the race, then they won’t strive to improve. The only place that you should be satisfied with is a first place finish. If we did not finish in first place, then how do we get closer to that? They are just learning to race at that level of competition,” Stigge said.