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Drees finishes 13th in 5A for Hays High

Published on -10/28/2012, 7:45 PM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

LAWRENCE -- Two years ago, Derek Drees was a football player, and during the spring, he considered himself a sprinter. It wasn't until Hays High School track and field coach Ryan Cornelsen convinced him to try out long distance in 2011 that Drees considered running cross country.

Now in 2012, the transformation is complete. Drees proved he was one of the state's top long distance runners at the Class 5A state cross country championship meet Saturday at Rim Rock Farm near Lawrence.

Drees finished 13th in 16 minutes, 28 seconds on the 5,000-meter course -- six seconds off his personal best.

Hays High cross country coach Jerold Harris said he's proud of the improvement Drees has made.

"He just looked like a robot (when he started running long distance). He didn't look fluid. He didn't look smooth," Harris said. "He put in his summer running, and he looks like a runner now."

Drees' personal goal was a top-20 finish. With less than a half mile to go, he was in 22nd, and Harris told him to kick it in. Drees did and improved nine places.

"We told him if you want to medal, you are going to have to hurt," Harris said. "Once again, he doesn't let you down."

Drees said he left it all on the course.

"Feeling the way I feel I know I left it all out there," Drees said. "I feel absolutely terrible. That's the way it should feel."

As a team, Hays High finished ninth with 227 points. Wichita-Bishop Carroll won the team title with 45.

Senior Ethan Fort was 44th in 17:28, and senior Joshua Brungardt placed 74th in 18:03.

Juniors Landon Munsch and Hunter Bizzell rounded out the team scoring in 77th and 82nd in 18:06 and 18:12, respectively.

Senior Blake Mathews and junior Kendall Kandt also completed, placing 99th and 103rd in 19:15 and 19:14, respectively.

Drees said he's happy with how his team has improved the last few seasons, going from not qualifying in 2010 and placing 10th in 2011 to finishing ninth this season.

"From the lots of summer miles that Coach has us run and the intervals that we were running that he worked up for us just to make us cry during practice, he definitely made not just me better but the whole team overall from last year," Drees said.

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