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Hays Middle School will add cross country





Hays Middle School students will have at least one more athletic option this year.

The board of education voted Monday night to add a cross country program for seventh- and eighth-grade students to HMS.

Superintendent Will Roth said the school can add the program because "the high school coaches have agreed to take on the middle school kids as well. They will schedule meets where their meets are, if (middle school competitions are) available."

The middle school students will ride the same bus as the Hays High School team, so there won't be additional transportation costs.

Craig Pallister, HMS principal, said approximately 25 boys and girls have signed up for the program.

"We made a promise to the public that with consolidation of the schools, we would afford them more opportunities for participation, not less. This is consistent with that, and we're trying to follow through with that," said Alan Moore, board member.

The board also gave the go-ahead for Pallister and Bruce Rupp, HMS athletic director, to apply for membership in the Pioneer League for the 2013-14 school year, and add seventh-grade sports.

Salina, Great Bend and McPherson also are applying for league membership. However, there is no guarantee the schools will be admitted.

The league, which has 22 schools, is divided into three divisions, so schools compete against others with similar student populations.

HMS also will look to add soccer, golf and tennis options for students.

"We just added cross country, (and) more opportunities for our middle school students to participate in their area of interest," Roth said.

Being a member of the league would open up other opportunities.

"It's a full league. We'd be able to add science Olympiad, music contest, quiz bowl, orchestra, band and vocal, include a lot of opportunities for kids, not just athletics," Pallister said. "This is something we've been looking for even before the consolidation."