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SPOTLIGHT
HHS looks to rebound at regional

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HHS looks to rebound at regional

Published on -10/17/2012, 10:41 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Hays High School cross country coach Jerold Harris admitted it was difficult for his boys' team to get too excited about the Western Athletic Conference championships last week. The top two places were all but decided before the meet began because of how Dodge City and Liberal had been running.

And at WAC, the Indians ended up running poorly and finished last.

However, Harris said Saturday's Class 5A regional at Great Bend should be a different story.

"It was hard to get super excited for WAC, but on Saturday, when there's something on the line, these guys will lay their hearts out," Harris said.

The Indians will compete at Lake Barton Golf Course in Great Bend. The girls' race is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., and the boys are scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m.

Hays High is in a similar position to last season. In 2011, the Indians finished last at WAC but rebounded at the regional and qualified the team for state.

Harris said he expects a similar result for his boys' squad this year.

"I'll be really, really disappointed -- and I'll let them know by the way -- if we don't qualify for state. I'll probably make them jog home (if they don't qualify)," Harris said, joking about the last part.

The front runners for a state berth are likely WAC runner-up Liberal, Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division II champion Valley Center, Great Bend and Hays High on the boys' side. The top three out of the regional qualifies for state.

Great Bend beat Hays by 14 points at WAC, and Valley Center runs similar times to Hays.

However, Hays High's top runner, senior Derek Drees, said the squad is aiming for more than just a qualifying spot. He said the team wants to finish in the top two.

"The goal is to bring home a trophy and beat Great Bend," Drees said. "That would be cool and set the tone for state."

Drees said in order to beat Great Bend, Hays High's top runners will have to have a strong performance.

"We would have to put three of our runners in front of their second runner," he said. "That would help out a lot. Our fourth and fifth runners will have to run well, too."

On the girls' side, the Indians will face one of the more difficult regionals in the state.

Like the boys, the girls also finished last at WAC, so they will have to run better than both WAC teams that beat them -- Great Bend and Liberal. The regional also will feature strong Maize South and Valley Center teams that could challenge for state trophies, Harris said.

And with a number of strong individuals from other teams, it could be difficult to individually qualify.

"I really think two of the (state) trophies are going to teams out of our regional," Harris said. "I think Maize South could win a trophy and Valley Center could challenge for a trophy."

As for the boys' though, Drees said he expects his team to run with passion.

"If we don't run our race or run well, then the season ends, and that's not the way you want to end your senior year," Drees said. "I know that's what Josh, Ethan and all those guys are thinking, too.

"We are going to run our hardest out there and try to make the season last as long as we can and make coach proud of us."

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