Panthers qualify cross country teams
BY JIM MISUNAS
LAKE BARTON — Great Bend medalist Kaiden Esfeld (16:33.12) ran a perfect race while his teammates matched him with a surprising third-place regional finish that qualified the Panthers for the 5A state cross country championship at Augusta.
Sixth-place medalist Emilia Diaz led the Panthers girls to a runner-up regional finish (68) behind Maize South (24).
Esfeld enjoyed the 40-degree temperatures and light wind on the winding Lake Barton cross country course. The Western Athletic champion won his third race of the fall, 20 seconds ahead of Maize South runner-up William Schaeffer. He placed 31st at 5A state last year at Lawrence.
“It helps a lot knowing the course and knowing the turns. I know how to run this course. I went out and held my pace.,” Esfeld said. “I had an expectation to win today. Once we got going, it felt comfortable out there today. After the midpoint, the guys behind me were pretty far back.”
Esfeld pushed a consistent pace and led from start to finish.
“Kaiden ran a great race, a nice smooth race,” Lashley said. “Kaiden did what we needed him to do.”
Lashley was pleasantly surprised by the third-place finish. Esfeld was joined by 22nd Matthew Huslig, 18:10.12; 23rd Malachi Wasson, 18:14.14; 30th Apollos Johnson, 18:36.7; 31st Brody Feist, 18:44.0; and 48th Braden Suppes, 19:57.03
“If you told me at the start, the guys would make state cross country, I would’ve laughed,” Lashley said. “Our No. 5 runner Brody Feist ran an incredible race today. These guys worked extremely hard to get to the state meet. I thought we’d have a chance, but our guys who made state deserved it. They kept believing in our system. Last week at WAC might’ve been a hair better.”
Maize South medalist Alexa Rios (19:51.01) led the way with Diaz (19:51.01) placing as sixth medalist. She started slowly, but finished strong.
“The first mile felt like a jog, but the Maize South runners were really good,” she said. “I ran pretty well today. I felt strong while I was running. The cold weather felt good. My last mile I really picked it up. I know where to pass people at this course.”
The girls qualified despite some girls missing valuable practice time this week. The Panthers featured 13thh Morgan Beckwith, 20:40.64; 15th Emma Loomis, 20:47.63; 18th Addy Nicholson, 20:57.02; 23rd Eliana Jackson, 21:28.21; 25th Haley McCormick, 21:29.04; and 47th Hannah Loomis, 24:28.19
“The girls ran great today,” Lashley said. “They had a lot of great performances. Some girls missed practice time and Emma Loomis came back today.”
Maize’s boys (43) edged Maize South (46) for the boys team title.
“The Maize boys and Maize South girls are really good teams,” Lashley said.
GIRLS 5K GIRLS TEAM SCORES—1—Maize South 24; 2—Great Bend 68; 3—Valley Center 84; 4—Hays High 90; 5—Salina South 105; 6— Newton 163; 7—Salina Central 184
GIRLS TOP 10 MEDALISTS—1—Alexa Rios, MS, 18:57.1; 2—Hannah Grover, VC, 19:28.04; 3—Britton Kelly, MS 19:34.05; 4—Bowi Sargent, MS, 19:45.49; 5—Zoie Ecord Maize, 19:46.45; 6—Emilia Diaz, GB, 19:51.01; 7—Jalea Hoddy, VC 20:03.28; 8—Claire Dingler, MS, 20:12.9; 9—Arely Maldonado, Hays, 20:16.45; 10—Sage Pauly, MS, 20:26.16
GREAT BEND—13—Morgan Beckwith, 20:40.64; 15—Emma Loomis, 20:47.63; 18—Addy Nicholson, 20:57.02; 23—Eliana Jackson, 21:28.21; 25—Haley McCormick, 21:29.04; 47—Hannah Loomis, 24:28.19
5A BOYS 5K BOYS TEAM SCORES—1—Maize 43; 2—Maize South 46; 3—Great Bend 107; 4— Newton 110; 5—Salina Central 142; 6—Hays High 143; 7—Valley Center 155; 8—Salina South 207
TOP 10 MEDALISTS—1—Kaiden Esfeld, GB, 16:33.12; 2—William Schaeffer, MS, 16:53.63; 3—William Griffith, SC, 16:57.09; 4—Kadyn Dohlman, MS, 16:57.63; 5—Eli Clark, MS, 17:02.54; 6—Zach Johnson, Maize, 17:05.57; 7—Vaughn Decker, MS, 17:09.51; 8—Luke Schmidt, Newton, 17:13.47; 9—Isaac French, SC, 17:15.93; 10—Austin Schultz, Maize, 17:16.39
GREAT BEND—22—Matthew Huslig, 18:10.12; 23—Malachi Wasson, 18:14.14; 30—Apollos Johnson, 18:36.7; 31—Brody Feist, 18:44.0; 48—Braden Suppes, 19:57.03