The Central Heights and West Franklin cross country runners passed each test this season.
They did it again Saturday in the regional races. The Central Heights boys qualified as a team for state for the fifth straight season with its second-place finish in the 2A regional. The girls saw Taryn Compton qualify as an individual. The 2A state meet will be Saturday in Victoria.
West Franklin had two girls and two boys qualify for Saturday’s 3A State Meet in Wamego.
"The regional meet is a bittersweet competition," Central Heights coach Troy Prosser said. "For the majority of the runners across the state, it’s their final race of the season while others get one last chance to find a new level. This entire season, up to this point, has been complex, to say the least."
It was bittersweet for Lily Meyer.
"Lily has been one of our top runners for the past six years but found herself snakebitten with the injury bug this year and never really had the opportunity to fully heal up from it," Prosser said. "While the season ended one week short for her, Taryn continued to improve and grow into an even stronger runner as the season progressed and solidly staked her claim as name other runners and coaches know at every meet."
Compton finished fifth and Meyer 24th in the girls race.
Three of the boys placed in the top 11 — David Craft (second), Luke Cotter (third) and Dakota Kuczmarski (11th).
"The boys, on the other hand, had a very tough challenge living up to their own success and standard from the past four years," Prosser said. "On a 33-degree day with a bitter east wind, they didn’t flinch and put together their best performance as a team this season, earning a chance to run as a group at the state meet for the fifth straight year."
The West Franklin runners ran strong races with Lily Judd claiming a regional championship and Emma Bailey finishing third.
"The Lady Falcons got out to a great start," Falcon coach Ryan Hahn said. "About 400 meters into the race, Lily Judd took the lead, and Emma Bailey brought herself into the second place position. Lily was able to hold off everyone else, making her this year’s regional champion. Emma Bailey kept the pack at a distance, and claimed the third-place medal."
The boys qualified Kyle Haner (third) and Lucas Hassler (eighth) for state.
"The boys team was seeking a team qualifying position," Hahn said. "Despite all of their success this season, the team competition here would be much better than anywhere else they had been this season, so they knew it would be a battle.
"When it was all over, the team found themselves in fourth place. This team had high hopes this season, so coming up short hurts. But they are also resilient. There is no doubt that they will be supporting their state qualifying team members, and then redirecting their focus to the next step of the journey."
5th — Taryn Compton (22:34); 24th — Lily Meyer (25:27).
2nd — David Craft (18:05); 3rd — Luke Cotter (18:13); 11th -Dakota Kuczmarski (19:09); 27th — Nicholas Schultze (20:48); 42nd — Alex Skeet (23:04); 46th — Jesse Wharton (24:24).
Lily Judd (1st, 21:19); Emma Bailey (3rd, 21:47).
Boys (Team 4th)
Kyle Haner (3rd, 17:42); Lucas Hassler (8th, 18:31); Nathan Hassler (21st, 19:28); Nicholas Hatifield (24th, 19:39); Kale Link (25th, 19:40); Martir Caceres-Ramos (31st, 20:05); Timothy Pearce (43rd, 20:55).
Zeb Harris, 19:12.2, 16th; Dawson Dwyer, 19:53.6, 27th; Will Stanton, 20:29, 35th; Coy Jones, 20:30.5, 36th; Ian Smith, 20:37.7, 38th; Liam Robertson, 20:42.7, 41st; Aistin Henry, 20:46.5, 42nd.
Lexi McDaniel, 24:25.4, 20th; Madison Norman, 27:58.6, 42nd; Shayla Clary, 28:00.4, 43rd.