BY JIM MISUNAS
NEWTON – The Great Bend boys earned back-to-back state trips to Lawrence’s Rim Rock Farms with a 5A regional runner-up finish. Andover High (29) beat the Panthers (47) for first place. The Panthers finished fifth in 5A last year.
The Panthers featured five finishers in the top 14 – sixth-place Collin Hammond (17:29.06); seventh-place Joshua Tomlin (17:33.59); eighth-place Sage Cauley (17;44.5); 12th-place Evan Hammond (18:06.81); and 14th-place Ryan Nicholson (18:10.0). Collin Hammond and Tomlin matched strides with Cauley, the Western Athletic Conference runner-up. Also competing were 25th-place Alex Smith (19:02.84) and 33rd-place Malachi Wasson (19:23.94).
Andover’s Asher Moen (16:53.66) earned medalist honors.
Great Bend Panther Emilia Diaz placed fifth (21:21.3) and McKenna Esfeld earned seventh place to qualify for the 5A state meet at Lawrence. Salina Central’s Kayden Cobb (20:41.25) earned medalist honors.
BOYS TEAM SCORES—1—Andover 29; 2—Great Bend 47; 3—Newton 86; 4—Salina South 106; 5—Salina Central 156; 6—McPherson 180; 7—Wichita Heights 181; 8—Valley Center 187; 9—Hays High 204