BY JIM MISUNAS
LAKE BARTON — Great Bend’s girls captured the Western Athletic Conference championship. The Panther boys missed by one point, but they are riding a three-year run to the 5A state championship. The Great Bend boys have finished fifth, sixth and seventh the past three years at 5A state.
The Panther boys and girls will journey to the Lake Barton course at 10 a.m. Saturday for 5A regional cross country. The 5A regional features six league champions and runners-up and five state-ranked teams.
The 5-kilometer course winds through flowing hills and valleys on a picturesque setting.
“It’s one of the truest cross country courses in the state,” Lashley said. “Runners like our course. Our course is very fan-friendly, full of twists and turns. You can watch from a variety of spots.”
Lashley said the Panthers know the course well, which could provide a slight advantage.
“That should help us,” he said. “They know where the turns and hills are. It’s a lot tougher course than you think.
At the WAC meet, Great Bend’s Emilia Diaz (15:47.9) placed third, McKenna Esfeld (16:31.5) eighth; Emma Loomis (16:32.4) ninth and Haley McCormick (16:34.8) 10th at the WAC meet.
Mayra Ramirez (15:19.4) earned WAC Runner of the Year and Great Bend coach Lyles Lashley was named WAC Girls Coach of the Year. Ramirez will miss the regional because her beliefs don’t allow her to compete on Saturdays.
Top 10 WAC finishers for the Great Bend boys were third-place Kaiden Esfeld, 16:46.2; fourth-place Sage Cauley, 16:56.3; seventh Alex Smith, 17:11.4; and eighth Evan Hammond, 17:19.9. Cauley is a three-time state qualifier and Collin Hammond and Alex Smith are two-time state qualifiers.
No. 4 ranked Maize South, No. 6 Great Bend and No. 7 Maize High headline the girls division. No. 2 ranked Maize South and No. 6 ranked Great Bend lead the boys division.
“We were really pleased the way the girls competed at the league meet,” Lashley said. “The girls have stepped up and improved as the season has gone along. It’s a tough regional both girls and boys.”
Collin Hammond is expected to return after missing last week.
“You’ve got to count five guys, and if Collin is back, we’ll do better,” Lashley said.
The 2A regional at Lake Barton features Stanton County’s Hi-Plains league champions and Ellinwood’s girls, the Central Prairie League runner-up.
Saturday, Oct. 26
NOTES—The Lake Barton cross country course is 5 miles north of Great Bend on US 281 at NW 60 Road. Spectators may park in the first field inside the course and at the bike trail lot east of the course. No vehicles will be permitetd to enter after 9:45 a.m. After 9:45, parking is available at the bike trail. Anyone needing to leave before the last race will need to park outside the course and walk in. A Polaris will transport people from the bike trail to course until 9:45 a.m.
5A (3 teams qualify)
GREAT BEND (Lake Barton GC)—BOYS 10 a.m.; GIRLS 10:40—Great Bend, Hays High, Maize High, Maize South, McPherson, Newton, Salina Central, Salina South, Valley Center HS
GB GIRLS—Emilia Diaz, McKenna Esfeld, Emma Loomis, Haley McCormick, Emma Loomis, August Siefkes.
GB BOYS—Kaiden Esfeld, Sage Cauley, Alex Smith, Evan Hammond, Collin Hammond, Matthew Huslig, Ellis Long
5A GIRLS—No. 4 Maize South, No. 6 Great Bend, No. 7 Maize High
5A BOYS—No. 2 Maize South, No. 6 Great Bend
LEAGUE CHAMPIONS, RUNNERS-UP
AVCTL Division 2—1—Maize South boys; 1—Maize South girls
Western Athletic—1—Great Bend girls; 2—Great Bend boys
AVCTL Division 1—2—Maize boys; 2—Maize girls
3A (3 teams qualify)
NORTON—Beloit, Colby, Concordia, Goodland, SE Saline, Hays Thomas More Prep, Hoisington, Holcomb, Lakin, Smoky Valley, Minneapolis, Norton, Phillipsburg, Russell, Scott City
WICHITA (Lake Afton GC)—GIRLS 11:45 a.m. BOYS 10:30 a.m.—Anthony/Harper Chaparral, Caney Valley, Cheney, Cimarron, Douglass, Eureka, Halstead, Haven, Hesston, Hugoton, Kingman, Kismet Southwestern Heights, Larned, Lyons, Wichita Collegiate, Wichita Trinity Academy
2A (3 teams qualify)
GREAT BEND (Lake Barton GC)—GIRLS 11:20 a.m. BOYS 12—Elkhart, Ellinwood, Ellis, Hill City, Hoxie, Stanton County, Wichita County, Oakley, Plainville, Skyline, Smith Center, Spearville, Sublette, Syracuse, WaKeeney Trego
2A GIRLS—No. 2 Stanton County, No. 5 Ellinwood (Eagles have won 10 straight regionals)
2A BOYS—No. 1 Stanton County
LEAGUE CHAMPIONS, RUNNERS-UP
Hi Plains League—1—Stanton County girls, 1—Stanton Conty boys
Central Prairie League—2—Ellinwood girls
1A (4 teams qualify)
TRIBUNE—GIRLS 12; BOYS 12:45 p.m.—Ashland, Atwood, Brewster, Bucklin, Deerfield, Dighton, Fowler, Grainfield Wheatland, Kiowa County, Ingalls, Hodgeman County, La Crosse, Logan, Meade, Minneola, South Gray, Natoma, Ness City, Oberlin, Otis Bison, Palco, Quinter, Satanta, Wallace County, St. Francis, Stockton, Greeley County, Victoria
WICHITA (Cessna Activities Center)—GIRLS 11:15 a.m BOYS 11:50 a.m.—Burden Central, Burlingame, Burrton, Caldwell, Central Plains, South Central, Colony Crest, Cunningham, Dexter, Elbing Berean, Goessel, Hartford, Hutchinson Central Christian, Fairfield, Lebo, Little River, Macksville, Marmaton Valley, Olpe, Oswego, Oxford, Pretty Prairie, St. John, St. Paul, Stafford, Udall, Waverly, Wichita Central Christian, Wichita Classical