RIM ROCK FARM — For the Hesston High School boys' cross country team, the first trip to Rim Rock Farm outside of Lawrence turned into a pretty good one.
The Swathers claimed four individual medals Saturday en route to the Class 3A state team title. It was the first trip to state for all seven Hesston runners.
Hesston finished the meet with 88 points, followed by Salina Sacred Heart with 114 and Riley County with 126. Halstead claimed a pair of medals and finished sixth with 151 points.
Hesston wins its second state title in boys' cross country, the last one coming in 1982.
"We had four runners finish in the top 16," Hesston coach Nealee Johnson said. "I think we like this course better than (Class 4A state site Wamego Country Club). We came up here yesterday and everybody enjoyed it. None of these kids ran the other course. We had four who were on varsity last year. All of our kids stepped up this season."
Hesston was led by sophomore Austin Bollinger, who placed 11th in 17:48.73. Sophomore Lucas Schmucker was 13th in 17:50.80. Bollinger was the top-finishing sophomore of the meet.
"There are a lot of hills," Bollinger said. "I had to focus on the hills, so I could get up and down quickly and pass people along the way. We came yesterday morning and ran the course. It was a nice course. Our top four were right next to each other. (For next year,) we'll need a lot of training so we can get back here, or if we do go back up to 4A, we're ready."
Bollenger said he will run the 800- and 400-meter runs during the track season.
"I'm more a sprinter than anything," Bollinger said.
Hesston's next two medalists were seniors — Cody Nuss in 15th in 17:52.82, followed by Kameron Johnson in 16th in 17:53.23.
Sophomore Kelson Claassen was 72nd in 19:25.39, followed by freshman Reuben Peachey-Stoner in 83rd in 20:05.25 and sophomore Grant Dahlsten in 88th in 20:12.72.
"We have two seniors who we will miss a lot," Johnston said. "We have a lot of kids who will just keep working. Hopefully, this will become a tradition that will keep going. ... The kids have a taste of this and want to keep going."
Hesston was competing in Class 3A this season after several years in Class 4A.
Halstead also came in with a young team, claiming a pair of medals.
Freshman Steven Cline was the top-finishing freshman of the meet, taking 10th in 17:45.91. Freshman Patrick Porch claimed the last medal, taking 20th in 18:00.58.
"It's definitely a challenge, not what I expected," Cline said. "The hills were definitely a challenge — going up and down the hills. I like how cool it was (mid 50s by race time). I didn't get overheated at all. I just thank God for what he did."
Page 2 of 2 - Cline said hill work will be a top priority for next year.
"I have to get stronger," he said. "I'll probably have to work on the (Halstead) dyke — running up and down that. We came up last night and walked it. We tried to work on some strategies for it."
Cline said he will play basketball this winter and run distances and the 4x800-meter relay in track.
Also running for Halstead were sophomore Darien Dawson in 32nd in 18:28.00, senior Cody Reinert in 73rd in 19:32.75, freshman Jacen Spragg in 77th in 19:43.76, senior Isaac Solis in 80th in 19:56.34 and freshman Adam Sigwing in 92nd in 20:33.09.
"Overall, I was very pleased with the effort of the team," Halstead coach Curtis Vermillion said. "No one on this squad had ever competed in the state meet, yet we had two young men place and medal for being in the top 20. I think it is safe to say we had one of the youngest teams qualify, and they represented themselves and the communities of Halstead and Bently very respectfully. We had some goals set that we did not accomplish, but we hope to use the experience as a learning tool, and as motivation for next season. I hope the team has some hunger to return to the state level, and will continue working hard, even during the off-season, to make that happen."
The sole area girl in the race was Sedgwick freshman Shae Ware, who claimed a medal, finishing 13th in 16:54.88.
"I took it like any other race," Ware said. "I walked through the course many times. It's pretty hilly."
Ware made a surge in the last 500 meters, passing several runners to improve her position.
"I'm usually a sprinter, so that helps," Ware said. "I just wanted to try something new. I usually play soccer. I wanted to stay in shape for basketball. I definitely want to try for top 10 next year, and bring our whole team to state. That would be awesome. We were one place away this year."
She said she will run the 100-, 200-, 400-meter dashes and high jump.