HILL CITY — There is one last stop before the end of another successful cross-country season for Ellinwood High School.
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams won Class 2A regional championships over the weekend, qualifying them for the state meet, which will be held at the Wamego Country Club in Wamego on Saturday.
The girls won their fourth straight regional title.
“I thought we ran well,” Ellinwood head coach Lyles Lashley said. “The girls ran the course very well. They ran smart both individually, and as a group.”
The Lady Eagles will be taking another crack at becoming state champions. They have finished as runners-up the last two years.
Three seasons ago, the Ellinwood girls finished eighth in 3A action.
Senior Jenna Snell led the Lady Eagles in Saturday’s regional competition, finishing second with a time of 16 minutes, 15 seconds.
It is the second straight regional title for the Eagles, who are the defending state champions.
Pedro Montoya once again led Ellinwood’s boys, taking first place in a time of 16:38.
“It felt pretty great,” Montoya said. “We ran really good. I messed up a little bit, but I pulled it back together.”
The four-wheeler that leads the runners pulled off to the side, leading Montoya in the wrong direction.
“I was following the guy on the four-wheeler, and he turned off the path to get his hat, and I started to follow him,” Montoya said. “But he told me to go straight, so I kept going. It kind of messes with your concentration.”
Montoya has finished first in every meet Ellinwood has competed in this season.
“He ran really well,” Lashley said of Montoya. “It was his first time as a regional champ individually. He’s beaten a lot of good competition this season.”
The Eagles have returned five of their top six runners from last season, and Lashley said that the team’s experience will play to its advantage.
“Most of them have ran at state twice,” Lashley said. “In fact, that’s why we go to the big meets like Rim Rock and Hesston. When you’ve already run with 200 others, it’s less stressful the second time.”