HAYS — Rubi Torres of Great Bend High School was not to be denied during the all-star cross-country meet held prior to the 38th Annual Kansas Shrine Bowl on Saturday night at sun-baked Lewis Field Stadium.
Torres showed why she was a three-time Western Athletic Conference cross country champion at GBHS, competing in her final high school meet before heading off to Newman University in Wichita on a cross-country scholarship.
Competing against some of the best runners in the state, Torres grabbed the lead at the mid-point of the race and coasted the rest of the way to capture first place in the two-mile race in a time of 12 minutes, 37 seconds.
Although the heat index was soaring and the temperature was still at the 100-degree plateau in the 6:30 race, it didn’t bother Torres the least bit. Of course, it helps when you’re a college-bound National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics athlete that is in peak condition.
“I’ve been running this hard in the heat this summer and it wasn’t too bad for me,” Torres said.
The race began with the runners departing the starting line at the north end of the stadium, winded its way through the Fort Hays State campus and then working back around into the stadium, where the 5,948 fans in attendance cheered the runners to the finish line.
And there was Torres, all smiles after the race.
“I was running with another girl for a while and I found myself behind her,” Torres said. “She was kind of beating me up the hill and then I was able to out-run her and catch her at the one-mile mark.”
Like Torres, Great Bend’s Erin Sullivan also ran for the West squad.
Torres also made recruiting visits to Wichita State University, Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State, but was sold on Newman because of two things — she will only have to run cross country and the school has a solid pre-nursing program.
“At every other university, I would have to be running both cross country and track,” Torres said, “and I don’t think my body could handle that.
“At Newman, they only have a cross country team, not a track team, so I thought that was pretty cool.”