WAMEGO — The Ellinwood Eagles flew high for the second consecutive year on Saturday at the Class 2A state cross-country championships.
State runner-up Pedro Montoya (16:25.1) led the Eagles to back-to-back state titles as he finished behind Dray Carson of Ness City (16:13.2).
Ellinwood finished with 56 points and Stanton County scored 74 points at the challenging Wamego Country Club course.
The Ellinwood girls won a tiebreaker for the second place trophy in Class 2A behind champion Berean Academy. Ninth-place finisher Jenna Snell was a four-time top 10 finisher. The Eagles finished as State runner-up for the third straight year.
Montoya said a fast early pace and strong finish wasn’t quite enough to beat Carson. It marked the first race he had not won all season.
“I ran a good first mile and ran a PR (personal record),” Montoya said. “But I thought maybe I came out too fast and maybe should’ve backed off a little bit. I knew there would be good competition at state and anything could happen. Carson and I ran together at regionals and state. Winning the team title is a big deal to us. Our team came through for us today.”
Ellinwood head coach Lyles Lashley said Montoya, unbeaten all season, was personally disappointed in his runner-up finish. But Lashley said he was awfully proud of Montoya’s work ethic and his ability to lead the Eagles. Carson pushed the pace after the first mile and Montoya was never able to catch him.
“It was great to win state again. The reason we won state was because of Pedro. Pedro went out hard early and paid for it in the middle,” Lashley said. “Pedro’s hard work paid off. He’s had a great year and performed awfully well.”
Also counting for the Eagles were Morgan Feemster, 9th (17:17.7); Kyle Oglesbee, 13th (17:39.7); Kyle Blakeslee, 26th (18:05.6); and Derek Ward, 39th (18:26.0). Avery Pike finished 61st (18:54.0).
“The guys competed well and ran their hearts out,” Lashley said. “They went out hard and paid for it a little bit in the middle. You have to hit it hard on this course because you can get stuck in some of those difficult cutoffs. Our guys all ran well. We had a couple guys a little banged up who stepped up and competed well.”
Berean Academy scored 82 points to capture the Class 2A title. The Ellinwood girls claimed a runner-up finish with 91 points, winning a tiebreaker with Shawnee Maranatha on sixth-place runner Chelsea Kasper. Lincoln’s Jenna Farris captured her third consecutive state cross-country title (15:31.9) ahead of runner-up Lauren Harrell of Maranatha.
Ellinwood’s Jenna Snell captured her fourth state medal with a ninth-place finish (15:51.9). Snell captured the Class 3A state title as a freshman and finished runner-up, fifth and ninth the past three years.
Others competing for the Eagles were Abbie Reichuber, 22nd, (16:43.); Brooke Panning, 30th (17:10.3); McKenna Rugan, 33rd (17:20.4); Laura Standlee, 34th (17:23.1); and Kasper, 63nd (18:23.9).
“What a career for Jenna Snell — a four-time top 10 finisher,” Lashley said. “She ran a really good race today and that was a nice way to finish her career. The girls ran a competitive race — that’s the best we’ve ever run this course. There was just one team that ran it better. I was awfully proud to earn the runner-up trophy with our sixth-place runner.”
The Macksville girls and Stafford High boys barely missed the Class 1A medal stand with fourth-place finishes.
Sophomore Lisa Penner (16:17.4) placed third behind three-time champion Audrey Schmitz of Axtell (15:49.1) and Taylor Tustin of Wheatland-Grinnell (16:04.2). Penner trained on some hills near St. John. She liked the 50-degree weather and calm winds.
“I thought I ran really well today,” Penner said. “We practiced on some hills outside St. John and that helped me. I definitely ran my best race today. I was a little surprised by how well I ran. I just felt good today.”
Other runners for Macksville were Anna Penner, 15th (16:57.4); Magi Penner, 47th (18:52.3); Gilda Lopez, 50th (19:08.4); Brooke Polly, 55th (20:00.3); and Silvia Lopez, 60th (20:45.0).
“We were a little disappointed because we were hoping to finish in the top three, but the girls ran some really good times today,” Macksville head coach Mike Hullman. “Lisa ran an exceptional race today. As a team, we ran extremely well. It was tight for third place. We’ve worked on some hills this week and that helped us today.”
Stafford High’s boys barely missed the medal stand with a fourth-place finish in Class 1A. Tribune-Greeley County won the state title with 37 points followed by Pike Valley (47), Kansas City Christian (66) and Stafford (95).
Running for Stafford were 10th-place medalist Derek McClure (17:55.9); Austin Ceniti, 32nd (18:55.9); Dustin McClure, 34th (19:07.0); Andy Flores, 65th (20:12.1); Mikey Aguilar, 76th (21:44.1); and Trenton Herrman, 82nd (22:06.7).
Macksville’s Henry Penner finished fifth to apparently lead the Mustangs to 10th place with 157 points. But some time after results were originally posted as official results, Penner and two other Mustang runners were listed as disqualified for wearing incorrect numbers.
Mustangs Hugo Flores and Isaac Seibert were also disqualified for wearing an incorrect competitor number. Wyatt Neeland finished 90th (26:04.4) as become Macksville’s only official finisher.
Toby Conrad, Macksville athletic director, said KSHSAA officials verified that Penner had indeed finished fifth by viewing a video, but still disqualified him.
“I do want people to know that Henry Penner finished fifth in Class 1A. Somehow, the guys got their numbers criss-crossed,” Conrad said. “In the past, the runners had their names and numbers safety-pinned on. But they did not do that this year. There was some confusion.”
Larned High freshman Delainee Gordon finished 26th with a time of 16:19.1.