RIM ROCK FARM — The Halstead High School boys’ cross country team found itself off the championship podium for the first time in several years — by one point.
The Dragons finished fourth at the Class 3A state championships Saturday at Rim Rock Farm.
Southeast of Saline won the team title with 83 points, followed by Hugoton with 118 and Smoky Valley with 123. Halstead scored 124 points.
Hesston was 11th at 206.
Matthew Oglesby of Galena won the race in 15:59.5.
“We knew going into the meet that despite being defending champions, the boys were underdogs,” Halstead coach Curtis Vermillion said. “We were frustrated with the final results, because we had defeated, at one or more times during the season, all three teams that finished ahead of us. Bottom line, we did not run as well as we needed to or could have, and have to accept the outcome. Give all three teams that beat us credit, as they ran better than we did, on this day, on this course.”
Halstead was led by senior Andrew O’Brien, who claimed an eighth-place medal in 17:00.5.
Senior Joshua Talbott was 27th in 17:53.4, followed by sophomore Hayden Davis in 44th in 18:17.9, junior Isaac Radke in 58th in 18:45.6, junior Dawson Driskill in 62nd in 18:55.8 and junior Sebastian Horn in 94th in 20:01.1.
For the Halstead girls, sophomore Parker Schroeder was 38th in 22:10.1.
Halstead was without runners junior Gage Carr and senior Kaia Siebert, who were both injured.
“I don’t want the final outcome to damper the accomplishments that the boys team had on the season,” Vermillion said. “We had graduated three of our top 10 runners from a state championship team, yet placed first seven times in meets, including the CKL championship and 3A Regional championship. I am very proud of their efforts and success. This group of runners worked hard every day in practice, and left their mark on the program. It is without question, a great honor for anyone to run at the state meet. The energy, atmosphere and enthusiasm surrounding the state championship races, with a thousand or more fans cheering on the runners, is certainly an experience they all will remember. Rim Rock is a mentally and physically challenging course. As I’ve said before, I admire all the runners who competed and am amazed at the efforts they give. All are truly winners.
“We will be graduating three young men this year — Andrew O’Brien, R.J. Stovall, and Josh Talbott. All who made a positive impact on the cross country program over the past several years. We wish them well and will truly miss them next year. Our girls team will also be graduating two important fixtures from the program. Thank you Lydia Johnson, and Kaia Siebert for your efforts. Lydia is the current 5K school record holder and also has the top six times for a Halstead girl runner in a 5K race. We wish you both the best as well.”
Hesston was led by junior James Peters in 43rd in 18:17.8, junior Jeb Carlson in 54th in 18:35.9, freshman Jimmy Yang in 61st in 18:52.6, sophomore Johnny Yang in 67th in 19:00.6, sophomore Joey Kueker in 82nd in 19:26.8, sophomore Will Bartel in 86th in 19:33.6 and junior Carter Funk in 89th in 19:46.3.