Tigers run on new course
Published on -10/7/2012, 8:05 PM
By NICK McQUEEN
VICTORIA -- On the up side, the Fort Hays State University cross country team was finally able to debut its new home course -- the Sand Plum Nature Trail near Victoria.
The down side was the No. 20 Tiger men not performing quite to their team's expectations.
Having its first scheduled appearance at the scenic trail moved due to weather in August, Fort Hays hosted Saturday's Tiger Open despite cold and damp conditions. The new course was christened with several compliments throughout the day from a good crowd on hand.
"It was great to get out here, because we've been working so hard on it -- hours and hours," Tiger coach Jason McCullough said. "Quite a bit of money has gone into it, and it's really turned out to be a great course."
Times were a little on the fast side Saturday, but the disappointing part came in the Tiger men's second-place finish behind Northwest Missouri State University.
Running without senior Alex Hendee, who was taking the LSAT, Fort Hays scored 41 points to finish second behind Northwest Missouri's 37.
"(Hendee) would have been right up there," said Tiger senior Tanner Christensen, who outkicked sophomore teammate Cory Keehn for second place. "We just have to stay focused on stay positive. You never know on race day what will happen."
The Tigers had been dominant as of late, and were in their final outing before going to the MIAA Championships on Oct. 20 in Maryville, Mo. -- with Northwest Missouri hosting.
"I still thought we should have been a little closer, if not beat them, even without Alex running today," McCullough said. "Right now, they're disappointed, and they should be.
"They know they can run better than that," McCullough added.
Christensen finished in 24 minutes, 31.63 seconds as times were faster than some expected. Keehn finished in 24:32.29.
"I didn't think I'd be able to see 24s on this course," Christensen said. "I figured mid-25s, but surprisingly, it was pretty fast today."
After Christensen and Keehn, Michael Wolf was 10th (25:09), Chris Ramsguard 14th (25:16.09), and Johnny Bernasky 15th (25:17.25). Northwest Missouri placed four in the top seven, paced by a title-winning performance from Ryan Darling (24:24.64).
On the women's side, McCullough was more than pleased with his young Tiger squad. Fort Hays finished with 49 points in third place, just nine back of champion Northwest Missouri.
Sophomore Alex Nelson paced the Tigers' day, finishing third in 18:26.16.
"That was an outstanding race for her," McCullough said. "She's come on strong and has really improved. This week, she just decided to step and see what you can do."
The Tigers' usual No. 1, junior Gentry Linscott was 10th in 18:53.03, as Linscott, junior Carman Hill (18:53.38) and junior Marie Schaller (18:56.46) packed together in 10th, 11th and 13th place, respectively.
"Especially pleased with the women. To get that close to Northwest Missouri," McCullough said. "They're one of the better teams."
Northwest Missouri's Brittany Poole and Jordan Esry swept the top two spots. Poole ran a 17:40.33, setting the 5K course record at Sand Plum Nature trail. Darling's 8K men's time will be the course record as well.