HALSTEAD — The Halstead High School boys cross country team has been a Class 3A power for a number of years now.
Despite the loss of four state qualifiers to graduation, the Dragons look to be atop the league, regional and state standings again in 2020.
Curtis Vermillion begins his 32nd season as the Dragons’ coach. He is assisted by Donovan Regehr, in his 18th season.
The Halstead boys won both the Central Kansas League and Class 3A regional titles last season, taking sixth at state. The Halstead girls didn’t score in league, but took eighth at regionals.
Returning state qualifiers for the Dragons are seniors Thomas Porch, who took 42nd with a season-best time of 18:02.5; and Hayden Davis, who was 47th at state with a season-best time of 18:08.9.
Other returning letterwinners include senior Max Cubbage (best time 21:19.68), junior Austin Radke (19:56.64), and sophomores Aiden Allmon (19:24.3), Spencer Johnson (19:00.34), Nickolas Mendez (20:09.03) and Andrew Thompson (21:28.78).
The sole newcomer for the boys is freshman Raiden Straub.
"The main goal this squad is focusing on is to return to the state meet and try to compete for a state championship," Vermillion said. "Most of the returners have been running during the summer, and seem poised to step up and accept the challenge. We have a good group of newcomers to the squad, who will provide depth and have some running experience. The entire group has a great work ethic, and is excited about the season. Last season we had some injury issues, and hope everyone can stay healthy, get better each week, and run with a purpose. The team has tasted success, wants to continue to excel, and leave their own positive mark on the program. We will need people to step up to accomplish those goals."
Four letterwinners return for the Halstead girls — seniors Katelyn Drake (25:40.96) and Parker Schroeder (21:09.63), junior Leah Weber (23:46.00) and sophomore Grace Lee (23:23.60).
Newcomers include junior Elena Flask, sophomore Adrianna Floro, and freshmen Kyree Shields, Mattea Weber and Brooklyn Wilkinson.
"The girls team returns four runners from last year," Vermillion said. "We lost one girl to graduation, and must have our newcomers step up and run varsity. We want to improve daily, and hope to stay healthy and allow ourselves to run as a full team all season. The main goal this squad has set is to qualify for the state meet. We have a great group of girls to work with.
"We will work hard to be successful. I am pleased with the outlook. These runners have a good attitude which helps with team chemistry."
Sept. 3 @ Clearwater Inv. 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 10 @ Swather Special (Hesston GC) 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 17 @ Centre Inv. (Herington GC) 4 p.m.
Sept. 22 @ Southeast of Saline Inv. 4 p.m.
Oct. 1 Halstead Inv. (Wedgewood GC) 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 8 @ Burrton Inv. (Harvey County West Park) 5 p.m.
Oct. 15 CKL @ Wedgewood GC 4 p.m.
Oct. 24 Regionals TBA
Oct. 31 State @ Rim Rock Farm TBA