There’s no place like home for the Hays High School cross country teams. The boys’ and girls’ squads swept the team standings at Thursday’s Hays High Invitational, the final edition of the annual event.
The Indians took gold in the Class 1-4A varsity girls by edging Colby by an average of just 11 seconds.
Colby’s Andrea Browne wore the No. 1 bib and beat all girls to the finish with a meet-low time of 16 minutes, 13.7 seconds.
Just behind Browne was Marie Reveles of Hays High, who finished with a time of 16:38.7 to secure second place and led the way for the first-place Indians. Having ran her best race in three tries this season, Reveles was happy to see herself compete with some of the best runners in the area.
“I’m actually really pleased because there’s a lot of good competition here,” Reveles said. “They all competed really well and I’m just so blessed that God gave me the ability to compete my best today.”
Following Reveles was Rachel Hamel of TMP-Marian, who led the fourth-place Monarchs at 16:50.4. After passing out before reaching the finish line at last year’s meet, Hamel well exceeded her goal of completing the race.
“I just had to keep reminding myself that it’s just a 4K because we’ve mostly been running 5Ks,” Hamel said. “My asthma kinda kicked in on the last quarter-mile. Last year I didn’t finish the race, I passed out, and I didn’t want a repeat of that. So I told myself I was gonna at least finish.”
Hays High earned first place with their top five runners placing among the top 20, including Ady Albers at eighth with a time of 17:25 and Haley George at 10th with a run of 17:41.9. Alyssa Bryant (15th) and Marian Friedel (16th) made the difference for the Indians, as Colby placed three runners in the top eight with runners three and four finishing 20th and 27th.
“It’s so awesome because we train so hard and we’re such a family,” Reveles said. “Just to be able to finish together is just the most amazing thing ever.”
The Norton girls placed third, led by a 17:08.6, fourth-place run from Casey Ambrosier. Shelby Stouffer of TMP also placed with a run of 17:49.7, enough for 13th place.
For the Hays High boys, it was Zachary Hopp who led the way with a first-place finish of 17:05.3. His teammate, Ethan Shippy, was the next runner to cross the finish line at 17:21.4. Daniel Lopez helped the Indians with his fifth-place finish at 17:51, while Caden Cunningan (11th) and Alex TInkel (14th) each medaled with times of 18:16.9 and 18:51.3, respectively. The Indians finished with just 33 points, 31 points ahead of the second-place Monarchs.
TMP’s Andrew Hess (17:47.8) was the highest-placing Monarch, finishing fourth on the afternoon. Ricky Hockett’s 12th-place finish at 18:29.2 and Mark Loftus’s 15th-place run of 18:52.5 helped like TMP to a second-place finish overall. Paul Brull and Trevor Pfeifer came in just under 19 minutes and finished 16th and 17th, just out of contention for a medal.
But on a difficult afternoon for running, with temperatures reaching the low 90s, it was the Indians who prevailed in their final home invitational.
“We got to run at a home and it’s a big help with all the fans here. We just wanna represent Hays the best we can when we’re at home,” Hopp said. “It’s really nice. We’ve been worked hard throughout the whole season and we really represented Hays well today as a team.”