VICTORIA — Freshman Amelia Jaeger highlighted the Hays High cross country team’s performance in the Western Athletic Conference meet with a run good enough for first-team all-conference honors on Thursday at Sand Plum Nature Trail.

Jaeger ran a 16:21.16 in the 4-kilometer race to finish fifth in the varsity girls race.

“To come out and make top five out of WAC, that’s really, really tough to do,” Hays High coach Jerold Harris said. “Very, very pleased with Amelia and her efforts today.”

The Hays High girls took third place as a team behind league champion Great Bend and second-place Dodge City.

The Indians five other top-20 finishers — Claire Shippy (12th, 16:44.29), Yesenia Maldonado (14th, 16:50.53), Jaycine Watson (15th, 16:53.56), Allison Shubert (17th, 17:06.55) and Michaela Dickman (18th, 17:10.74).

“I kind of knew we were going to be third, whether we ran well or ran poor,” Harris said. “Luckily, we ran well. I’m so glad that we competed as well as we did. This week we battled some injuries, just some little aches and pains. I was worried about how we would respond today, and we responded really, really well.”

Harris said competing in a 4K instead of the usual 5K was an adjustment for the runners.

“You’ve got to get out quicker than you normally do because it’s a thousand meters shorter,” Harris said. “You’ve got to get out quicker and start your kick earlier.”

Brayden Hines led the Hays High boys with an 18:06.81 to earn 18th place. Harris was also pleased with the performance of Grant Brungardt, who placed 26th with a 19:18.23.

“We went to Salina last week, a beautiful 50-degree morning, and they all ran PRs,” Harris said of the Hays High boys. “We had a bunch under 20 minutes again today. Brayden Hines ran an 18:06 on this course, which is a great time for a little sophomore. Grant Brungardt stepped up today in his last WAC race.

“Really pleased with our guys today.”

Garden City won the boys team title while Great Bend was second and Dodge City third.

The Indians will now gear up for the Class 5A regional meet hosted by Great Bend on Oct. 26 at Lake Barton Golf Club. Maize, Maize South, McPherson, Newton, Salina Central, Salina South and Valley Center comprise the rest of the field.

The HHS girls will be aiming for their fifth trip to state in six years.