LAWRENCE — The Great Bend High School cross country team is sending 12 runners to the Class 5A state meet at Rim Rock Farm on Saturday.
The Lady Panthers won first place at the Class 5A regional meet in Newton with a score of 24, putting them 47 ahead of second place Hays.
Their first-place finish qualified them for the state meet. Three alternate runners will be available if one of the seven can’t run.
“The girls are a strong group,” GBHS head coach Todd Kaiser said. “They know what the expectations are. If they run at their best, than they should get a trophy.”
The top three teams at state receive a trophy.
The team competed at the Rim Rock Farm High School Cross Country Classic on Sept. 25, meaning every runner from Great Bend has seen the course before. The Lady Panthers finished in sixth place at Rim Rock. Of the teams that placed ahead of them, only Blue Valley-Stilwell is in the Class 5A state meet.
Rubi Torres finished as the top finisher for the Lady Panthers in 15th place with a time of 16 minutes, 28 seconds. Torres, a senior, established herself as two-time Western Athletic Conference champion.
“I’m sure some of them will improve on their times,” Kaiser said. “They each have another month of conditioning under their belts.”
The Panthers qualified two runners for the state meet. Chon Chavez, who qualified with a time of 17:38, and Kole Stiner, who finished with a time of 18:11 at the Newton regional meet.
“I am happy that they get the opportunity to be a part of the state atmosphere,” Kaiser said of Chavez and Stiner. “It is a good reward for them.
“Being sophomores, I hope that they can take something away from this experience. Then come back to the rest of the team next year and become leaders that motivate the rest of the boys to make the meet as a team.”