Rupe sets course record, Great Bend girls win 5A regional at home
GREAT BEND, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Saturday’s regional cross country meets in Great Bend featured two of the state’s top runners. Unfortunately for spectators, Salina Central sophomore Katelyn Rupe ran early in the Class 5A race, and Stanton County senior Chesney Peterson followed later in the 2A race. Rupe broke Peterson’s Lake Barton record of 18:44, winning the individual regional crown by more than two minutes in 17:24.70.
“Honestly, it was knowing Chesney was here, too,” Rupe said of being able to run well alone. “Her times are obviously insane. Just knowing she’d be running after me, so I was just doing the best I could.”
As a freshman last year, Rupe opted to play tennis where she medaled at state. That meant she was unable to compete in cross country as a freshman, but she made an immediate splash in the track world last spring by winning the Class 5A 1600m and 3200m golds. This year, she was able to compete at the state tennis tournament, all while emerging as the state’s premiere distance runner.
“Our school, you can’t dual-sport as a freshman,” she said. “It’s our district’s rules. I just love tennis so much, so I wanted to stick with that. Honestly, I didn’t know I would be able to do what I’ve been doing.”
Behind Rupe Saturday, Great Bend sophomore Marisse Boone finished second in 19:45.38, followed by junior teammate Addy Nicholson in 19:47.47. The duo have been the 1-2 punch for the Lady Panthers, who finished third in Class 5A in 2021, all season.
“It’s really fun,” Boone said. “It’s also less stressful because you’re competing against someone who is also rooting for you, even though you’re still racing against each other.”
Junior Eliana Beckham ran 11th overall for Great Bend in 20:34.56, and freshman Sienna Smith placed 13th in 21:04.05. Junior Morgan Beckwith finished 16th in 21:18.92 to cap team scoring with 42 points. Maize South finished second with 55 points, and Hays ran third with 71 points.
Great Bend sophomore Reese King is usually among the team scorers but Saturday she lost her shoe midway through the race and still placed 21st in 21:30.99, missing the top-20 by eight seconds.
“I started really feeling it after a mile running without my shoe,” said King. “The last half mile it started hurting really bad because of all the sticks and rocks. It hurt really bad, but I was just like, the faster I get done, the faster I can stop.”
Valley Center senior Hannah Grover ran fourth overall in 19:55.42, followed by Maize South freshman Isabella Ponce in fifth in 20:00.69. Hutch senior Chloe Inskeep placed sixth in 20:07, Hays junior Arely Maldonado placed seventh in 20:14, and Maize South senior Kendall Sheilds finished eighth in 20:30. A pair of freshmen capped the top-10 with Valley Center’s Laney Hooper and Maize South’s Emma Brooks, each finishing in 20:32.
Maize boys dominate 5A boys’ field
Great Bend senior Kaiden Esfeld set a course record of 16:09 to open the season at Lake Barton earlier this fall. Saturday morning, that record changed hands as Maize junior Kaleb Glazier beat Esfeld by seven seconds in 15:47.71. All five Maize scorers finished in the top-eight to dominate the field with just 24 points. Salina Central placed second with 94 points, and Maize South beat Newton out by nine points for third with 106.
Maize runners took spots 4-6, led by junior Alex Ayin in 16:37.30. Senior Zach Johnson finished five seconds later in fifth, and junior Caiden Unruh placed sixth in 17:18.01. Senior Micah Schmidt picked up the final team points in eighth in 17:23.45.
Esfeld picked up the silver in 15:54.76, followed by Valley Center sophomore Brock Moses in 16:32.78 for the bronze. Salina Central freshman Liam Deniau-Young ran seventh in 17:19, Hays junior Elijah McCullough placed eighth in 17:23.45, and Newton senior Sam Secor rounded out the top-10 in 17:32.
The Class 5A State Cross Country Championships return to Lawrence’s Rim Rock Farm next Saturday.
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