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Panthers, Thunder vie for 5A state cross country title
Addy Nicholson competes in the 2023 5A cross country race.jpg


Every point matters.

When the No. 1 ranked Great Bend Panther girls challenge defending 5A state cross country champion Lenexa St. James, the 2023 Rim Rock and regional results tell an identical story.

Every point matters.

If results are compared when the teams raced at Lawrence Sept. 23, Great Bend would edge St. James 27-29.

Regional results vary depending on the challenge of the course, but those results based on time favors the Panthers 25-29.

However, those results can change quickly with one runner at Saturday’s 5A state 5-kilometer cross country championship at Lawrence’s Rim Rock Farms. The temperature at race time is forecast at 42 degrees.

Great Bend’s past state-placers are Marissa Boone, (8th, 17th); Addy Nicholson, (15th, 21st, 42nd); Eliana Beckham, (25th, 34th, 54th); Morgan Beckwith, (30th, 67th); Sienna Smith, (45th); and Kate Welcher, (86th).

The Panthers’ second-best runner Makenzie Premer missed the regional meet to compete in Great Bend’s volleyball substate.

Nicholson, Premer and Boone have traded spots in the Panthers’ top three. Smith has made steady time improvements as the season has progressed. Beckham and Beckwith have been consistent as the fifth runner in the team standings.

“You can’t worry about anyone else except yourself,” Nicholson said. “You want to go out and leave it out there.”

Premer (19:22.2) led the Panthers Sept. 23 at Rim Rock with Nicholson (19:28.3) close behind.

“I’d be happy to do better than that time,” Nicholson said. “Having our splits closer together can help us. Everyone can step up.”

Nicholson and Beckham, who enjoys running in colder temperatures, will close their careers as 4-time state qualifiers.

“We have confidence in ourselves and the hard work we’ve put in,” Beckham said. “We’re excited to show that at state.”

The biggest change for the Thunder is Annie Wilken and Leah Hausser shift into the Thunder’s 7-runner lineup.

Last year, the Thunder delivered six top 25 runners – fourth Quinn Hays, 11th Katie Price, 12th Annie Wilken, 19th Katelyn Menghini, 21st Allie Morfield and 23rd Leah Haeusser.


GREAT BEND (27)                            ST. JAMES (29)

1—Makenzie Premer, 19:22.2               2—Katelyn Menghini, 19:28.0

3—Addy Nicholson, 19:28.3                 4—Katie Price, 19:51.9

5—Marissa Boone, 20:05.8                   6—Allie Morfield, 20:08.6

7—Eliana Beckham, 20:16.3                 8—Isabella Simoes, 20:25.8

11—Morgan Beckwith, 21:27.5             9—Abby Loos, 20:54.9

12—Kate Welcher, 21:58.1                   10—Quinn Hays, 21:11.4


GREAT BEND (25)                            ST. JAMES (29)

1—Addy Nicholson, 19:06.0                 3—Katelyn Menghini, 19:30.14

2—Marissa Boone, 19:23.16                 4—Katie Price, 19:30.16

5—Sienna Smith, 19:41.91                    6—Allie Morfield, 19:53.31

8—Morgan Beckwith, 20:00.51             7—Quinn Hays, 19:53.82

10—Eliana Beckham, 20:12.17             9—Annie Wilken, 20:06.0

13—Bella Long, 21:04.27                     11—Leah Haeusser, 20:08.3

14—Kate Welcher, 21:11.74                 12—Abby Loos, 20:39.8