VICTORIA — Members of the Fort Hays State University cross country team had to somewhat temper their expectations for Saturday’s FHSU Open at Sand Plum Nature Trail just outside Victoria.
When the Tigers were notified Friday night that despite the heavy rainfall that soaked the course they still were going to be competing Saturday, they knew the times probably weren’t going to be the best they’ve seen.
What they knew, though, was a chance to mud it up on an otherwise perfect Saturday morning was going to be an adventure.
And it was.
“It was an interesting day,” said Tiger junior Layton Werth. “It wasn’t going to be a fast day, but it was going to be a fun one.
“We were actually pretty excited.”
Tiger coach Jason McCullough and helpers were at the course in the wee hours of the morning before the sun came up, laying down wood chips and working the course following Friday’s downpour that dropped more than 2 inches of rain.
Approximately 800 runners ran four separate races through the morning. By the time it got to the Tigers men’s race — the gold 8K — the course was extremely muddy and choppy.
“We just wanted to see how we could compete,” said Werth, the Tigers’ top runner as he came in 36th out of 167 in the gold race.
He covered the 8K in 26 minutes, 29.7 seconds.
“We wanted to compete well and just see how we could handle the conditions.”
The Tiger men scored 263 points in 10th place in the gold race. MIAA members University of Central Missouri (third, 93), University of Nebraska-Kearney (fifth, 155), Emporia State University (sixth, 169) and Pittsburg State University (ninth, 217) finished in front of the Tigers. Western State (Colo.) College won the team crown with 51 points.
“Really pretty happy with how our guys competed,” Werth said. “We really just kind of have to ignore the times. I felt like we ran pretty well. We grouped together pretty well.”
After Werth, Reed Rome came in 44th at 26:44.80, Alex Barbosa 63rd in 27:06 and Brett Meyer 65th in 27:06.80.
Sioux Falls’ Mason Phillips took top individual honors, finishing in 24:48.
The Tiger women finished second among MIAA teams in the 5K women’s gold race, and were fourth overall. FHSU scored 160 points, while Western State won the team title with 48 points. Pittsburg State was second with 73.
Lindsay Roberts and Chelsea Jackson paced the Tigers with 19th- and 20th-place finish, respectively. Roberts ran 19:04 with Jackson right behind at 19:05.90.
The next two Tigers — Lauren Roberts and Yessenia Gonzales crossed at 39th and 40th in 19:31.90 and 19:34.10. Lisa Penner was the Tigers’ final scorer at 20:11.70 in 72nd. There were 165 runners in the women’s gold race.
The Tigers next will compete in the MIAA Championships at 11 a.m. Oct. 21 in Warrensburg, Mo.