New course for HHS XC
Published on -9/12/2012, 10:16 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
Hays High cross country coach Jerold Harris has had it pretty easy when it came to the Indians' home meet.
There was a course already set up on the Fort Hays State University campus along the dike, so he would just have to bring his kids and help run the meet.
"I was really spoiled," Harris said. "I showed up and coached."
However, construction at FHSU made it difficult to continue running meets there, forcing Hays High to find an alternative location.
At first, Harris thought he would be able to have his meet at FHSU's new course at the Sand Plum Nature Trail outside of Victoria, but due to possible liability issues, the owner didn't feel comfortable having high schools run there.
Left with few choices a week before school started, Harris decided to create a course at Hays High.
"We felt like pioneers," Harris said.
The Indian Prairie Cross Country Course will make its debut at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Hays High Invitational.
The seventh-grade race will begin at 2:30, and the eighth-grade race will follow at 2:50 p.m. It will be the first middle school meet Hays High has hosted.
The different junior varsity and varsity races will follow at 3:45 p.m.
There will be 21 schools at the meet, counting the three middle school teams, and Harris expects 540 athletes to compete.
The course begins near 13th Street and the Hays High teachers' parking lot and finishes near the practice tennis courts.
The course runs along the perimeter of the campus, going past the HHS Soccer Field, along the evergreen tree line and also runs through the biology department's Natural Classroom, which has bird houses and an area with limestone benches and podium.
"I like the course as a runner," Harris said, comparing the two courses. "You get to run by the evergreen trees. You get some shade, and if it's windy, you get a wind block. The natural classroom is exciting to run into, but at Fort Hays, the course was pretty flat and the footing was pretty good."
However, Harris admitted the new course is not as spectator friendly as the previous course, which had a walkway that allowed people to see runners during several portions of the race.
Harris said the most difficult part of planning the course was getting the distances correct. With four different courses, it makes it difficult for the mileages to work out and still start and end at the same location.
In fact, because of those difficulties, the high school boys' 5,000-meter course will start farther ahead than the other courses.
"We spent hours upon hours out here, measuring and marking where the miles were and trying to figure out where everything goes," Harris said. "It's been a ton of work."
The course actually already existed. Former cross country coach Rick Keltner had his teams run on it, but Harris said the footing wasn't great and the teams preferred to run at FHSU.
With some maintenance, Harris said the terrain is better now.
Senior Derek Drees ran on the FHSU cross country course last season and, after giving the Indian Prairie course a run, said he's not concerned about changing courses.
"Seeing the course and seeing how we'll run it this year, I think it'll be fine," Drees said. I'm not too worried about it."
The cross country meet will coincide with Hays High's home soccer match against Dodge City, so Drees is hoping that, between football practice and soccer, there will be plenty of supporters.
"Maybe some Hays High kids will be there for the soccer match and cross country meet," Drees said. "I'm hoping there'll be a lot of people there."