VICTORIA — The 90-plus degree heat didn’t deter the Hays High girls cross country team from turning in a strong showing at the HHS Invitational on Thursday at Sand Plum Nature Trail.
The Indians had four medalists and two top-five finishers among the 6A-5A competitors in the girls race, placing second as a team.
“I thought our girls ran really lights-out today,” Hays High coach Jerold Harris said. “On Monday, we took them out in the country and ran hills with them when it was 90 degrees and windy. Then we ran distance out to here on Tuesday, so they really should have been on tired legs. I thought our girls really battled, ran as a family. I thought they competed for each other.”
Hays freshman Amelia Jaeger placed fourth with a 21:41.3, followed by HHS sophomore Landri Dotts, who took fifth in 21:54.8.
Junior Claire Shippy placed ninth for the Indians with a 22:15.4, while HHS senior Yesenia Maldonado was 14th with a 22:34.1. The Hays High girls finished just two points behind first-place Dodge City in the team standings.
“Really, we’ve got a good group of leadership and youth,” Harris said. “Yesenia’s a great leader. Maddie Lohmeyer was our seventh runner today; she’s a great leader. And then these young girls are running tough. Claire Shippy being a junior, that helps us with some leadership. I thought we ran really, really tough.”
A point of emphasis for the Indians has been cutting down their pack time, the gap between the team’s first and fifth runners. HHS cut the pack time down to 1:14 on Thursday, with Allison Shubert placing 18th in 22:55.8.
“That’s really, really awesome,” Harris said. “If you can get it around a minute and have a couple of girls up front like we did today, you’re going to beat some people.”
The Hays High boys were led by sophomore Brayden Hines’ 19th-place finish. Hines crossed in 19:12.5.
“I thought our guys worked pretty hard this week, so we’re on tired legs,” Harris said. “We’re just so young and inexperienced overall. The good Lord didn’t bless us with a lot of foot speed yet, but we’re going to overcome that with how hard we work and we’re going to get stronger. I was pleased with how the guys competed.”
Grace Pope highlighted the day for TMP-Marian, taking second in 4A-1A with a 21:52.2. The TMP girls had three other medalists — Abby Rueschhoff (fourth, 22:42.7), Kyleigh Allen (eighth, 23:14.5) and Sophia Allen (13th, 23:53.2).
Ellis freshman Madi Russell was the top finisher in 4-1A girls with a 21:28.8. Colby’s Seanna Metcalf was third (22:06.02) and Norton’s Hannah Bailey was fourth (22:22.7),
The Oakley girls won as a team among 4-1A teams.
Garden City’s Jocelyn Sosa was the overall winner in the girls race, clocking a 20:43.6. Salina Central’s Kadyn Cobb was second in 6A-5A with a 21:11.4 and Dodge City’s Serenity Larson was third with a 21:33.2.
Norton’s Connor Hall was the overall winner in the boys race with a 17:03.6. He was followed in 4-1A by teammate Ricky King, who took second in 17:33.7. Norton won the 4-1A boys team title.
Colby’s Ryan Voss was second in 4-1A with a 17:44:7, Ellis’ Samuel Pyle was fourth (17:47.5) and Plainville’s Chayse McCollough was fifth (18:22.4).
Garden City’s Ethan Fisher was the individual champion in 6A-5A boys with a 17:21.9. Garden City won the team title, edging Newton by a point.
Hays High will compete in the McPherson Invitational next Thursday while TMP will be at the Larned Invitational.