WAMEGO — The Ottawa High School boys cross-country team’s 4A state meet appearance Saturday was as much about the future as the present.
The Cyclones qualified as a team for the first time since 1996 and hope this opportunity starts a trend.
“They ran extremely well for not being experienced,” Ottawa coach Chris Kornhaus said after the Cyclones finished 10th at Wamego Country Club course. “Green is the word for these guys. Now they come away talking about this course. We want to come back. This was really fun. I was concerned we would get a big case of the nerves. This was a learning process. Today was really about next year.
“I am pleased with how they approached all this. I hope it helps us to be a little more serious about goal setting. We will take a short break from this. We have a real shot of continuing to rise.”
All seven of the Ottawa runners are underclassmen and can return next season.
“It will build our confidence,” freshman Brandon Yates, who led Ottawa in 46th place, said.
Sophomore Sam White said the experience should light a fire under the Cyclone runners.
“I can’t wait to come back,” he said. “We are all excited we got here and got a chance to run. We are going to expect better things. Coach is going to have higher expectations. We got a group of guys that can run together.”
The race was an eye-opener in one sense.
“It was a really fun course,” Yates said. “It was cool, everybody was yelling. It was good experience. I figured there would be a lot of people. The competition was really tough.”
White said the competition drove many of the runners.
“You run with the best and you do your best,” he said. “I expected it to be crazy. Tae kwon do was a common thing. All you saw was elbows, shoes and feet fly.”
That part of the state race is hard to prepare for. Kornhaus said jostling for position is a common thing.
“Everybody is trying to move up,” he said. “Everybody earned their spot here. They will do everything they can to stay in there.”
Yates said it became pretty congested in parts of the race.
“You go around the corner everybody was elbowing each other,” he said. “It was way different.”
White said the race was like taking a test in class.
“I told the guys at the starting line, ‘this is our semester final, but in sports ... let’s see if we can get an A on it,’” White said.
For sure, the Cyclones got a passing grade.
46, Brandon Yates, 17:51; 65, Sam White, 18:14; 66, Daniel White, 18:15; 77, Josh Christian, 18:28; 88, Brandon Nanninga, 19:00; 97, Drew Birzer, 19:35; 100, Jackson Schlotterback, 19:54.
Anderson County girls
57, Amanda Moody, 16:57; 72, Isabel Sibley, 17:38; 75, Gwendolyn Sibley, 17:46; 77, Bailee Wilson, 17:54; 78, Paige Scheckel, 17:56; 83, Remington Hedges, 18:06; 85, Eliza Sibley, 18:14.