For the first time in a while, McPherson High’s cross country team has a state qualifier.
Now, MHS coach Aspen Lott says, the Bullpups want to start qualifying their entire team beginning next year.
Both the MHS girls and boys took fifth place in Saturday’s Class 4A Regional Meet at wind-swept Rolling Acres, where gusts were up to 40 mph and made running into the wind a harrowing and grueling experience.
MHS sophomore Natalie Hedlund will carry the MHS banner at state next week in Wamego as she has been solid all year. She took eighth place here to qualify as she made the Top 10.
“She is mentally tough,” Lott said. “She came out here and did exactly what she needed to do.”
The MHS girls thought they had an outside chance to get in as a team as the top of the standings were bunched. Buhler and Chapman tied for first with 88 points, with Buhler winning the tiebreaker. Defending 3A champion Hugoton showed it can run at 4A by taking third with 94. Rock Creek (103) and MHS (118) completed the top five.
“I know our girls are disappointed, they thought we had a good shot today,” Lott said. “And I thought we were going to get it. But I kept telling them you’re all going to be back next year and you’re going to get it. We’re closer than we have been for a while.”
Hedlund’s time was 22:11.52. Katie Bahr was a Top 20 runner by taking 19th in 22:49.5. Other places and times were Claire Hedlund (27th in 22:58.82), Kassidy Beam (34th in 23:23.84), Mary Ann Wurm (35th in 23:29.47), Katelyn Beam (36th in 23:31.73) and Maggie Leaf (46th in 24:03.87).
Chapman’s remarkable freshman Taylor Briggs lapped the field in a Rolling Acres course record of 19:58.39 and could very well be the state champion next week.
The MHS boys score 169 points to finish behind defending 3A state champion Hugoton (36). Also ahead of MHS were Smoky Valley (93), Wamego (133) and Buhler (136).
Isaiah Moyer had a Top 20 by taking 19th in 18:29.29 to lead the Bullpups.
Other times were Cody Achilles (23rd in 18:38.28), Tyler Timson (36th in 18:55.85), Cole Hansen (37th in 19:06.97), Justus Hampton (62nd in 19:58.03), Silas Steinert (68th in 20:07.10) and Graedon Green (70th in 20:07.10).
Chapman’s Aaron Modrow was the champion in 17:07.31 to earn medalist honors and completed the Irish sweep.