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Lady Panthers capture first in Great Bend invite
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Senior Rubi Torrez sprints to the finish line to take first place for the Lady Panthers at the Great Bend Invitational on Thursday. - photo by Kevin Price, Great Bend Tribune

Great Bend High School cross country team opened their season hosting the Great Bend Invitational at Barton Lake Golf Course on Thursday. The varsity girls turned in a decisive first-place finish, and the boys finished in second place out of seven teams.
“This season, the girls are going to be real solid, and they’re only going to get better,” Great Bend High School head coach Todd Kaiser said. “With the boys, they are so young. There is only an upside to them. They can only get better.”
The Lady Panthers were led by senior Rubi Torrez, who finished in first place in a time of 16:09.69, 30 seconds ahead of second place Destyni Lucero of Liberal High School.
Great Bend’s next four girls to finish were Alissa Heilman, Hanna Wondra, Kaitlyn Tuey and Morgan Harwood. The four girls finished in seventh through 10th place and crossed the finish line within 10 seconds of each another.
“We finished our five scoring runners in the top 10,” Kaiser said. “If you can do that, you are going to do something at any meet you compete at.”
The Lady Panthers’ team score was 23 putting them 26 points ahead of second place team Buhler High School who scored 49 points.
The boys varsity finished with a team score of 84 putting them 51 points behind first place Liberal High School. But it was still good enough to beat out Hays High School which collected 97 points.
“Looking at their times, I think the boys improved pretty good,” Kaiser said. “For three of those freshmen, it was their first varsity race ever, so they are just going to get better.”
Sophomore Chon Chavez finished in sixth place with a time of 17 minutes, 46.92 seconds to lead the Panthers.
“Chon had a 17:46 which is a good starting time for him,” Kaiser said. “So he did a nice job for our boys varsity.”
Cristian Garcia finished 16th, and Cole finished in 19th to help the Panthers beat Hays.
“With how young the boys are, I just need to be patient with them,” Kaiser said. “But I just got to need to get them to buy into the mentality that the girls have and that’s running in a pack up towards the front third of the pack.”