The Great Bend High School cross country team is heading to the Class 5A state meet at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence on Saturday with experience.
The girls team, which will be heading to the state meet for the fourth year in a row, has plenty of state experience under its belt.
In fact, only freshmen Mariah Stein and Sarah Niederee don’t have state experience, though they have run on the Rim Rock course this season.
“That’s the main reason we go to that meet in September,” GBHS head coach Todd Kaiser said. “It’s good experience, especially for our young kids. It makes it a less intimidating course when we get back there in October. It’s not as scary for the team.”
For the girls, Kaitlynn Tuey and Hannah Wondra are the leading runners.
Tuey finished with a time of 16 minutes, 52 seconds at Rim Rock Farm on Sept. 24, and Wondra crossed the finish line at 17:17.
“I think top 20 to 25 would be a good race for her,” Kaiser said of Tuey. “If she competes like she’s capable, I think she could reach the top 20 or 25.
“Hannah, if she could have the same type of mind-set as Kaitlynn, she could be in the top 25.”
Last year, Kaiser said he had several girls collapse at the finish line at the state meet, including Wondra, who crawled across the finish line.
“They all went out there and gave it their all,” Kaiser said. “It was like the end of a movie or something. They left it all out on the course, and that’s exactly what they will need to do this weekend.
“They are ranked No. 7 in the end of the season coaches poll. I told them that I just want them to go out there and validate that ranking, and finish in seventh place or higher.”
Chon Chavez leads the boys team. He, along with Kole Steiner, competed at the state meet last year, having qualified as individuals.
This season, the entire team qualified for the state meet, ending a two-year hiatus. A fact that makes Chavez very happy according Kaiser.
“The boys fought, scratched and clawed their way back into the state meet after missing it the last two years,” Kaiser said. “Chon and Kole were both there last year, but the team hasn’t been to state in two years.
“Chon told me earlier in the season that he wanted the whole team there. He said that it was a little more intimidating at the state meet last year. He said it was scary lining up in a box with other individual qualifiers instead of with the team around him.”
Chavez finished with a time of 17:03 at Rim Rock Farm earlier this season. Stiner crossed the finish line at 18:04.
The boys were ranked No. 6 in 5A in the latest coaches poll.
“All year, we’ve been in the top 10 to 12 in the rankings, and this is the first time we were above the top 10,” Kaiser said. “It shows the boys that if you work hard, you will have something to show for it.
“My expectations for the boys is just like it is with the girls. I want them to finish at or above their rankings.”
Great Bend High School