Berean runner wins race at Swather Special

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Berean Academy runner Andrew Harder won the Class 3-2-1A junior boys race Thursday at the Swather Special. Harder had the third best time among all boys at the meet.
The Newton High School freshmen girls leave the starting line at the Swather Special.

HESSTON — A lot of summer training paid off for Berean Academy runner Andrew Harder, who won his race Thursday at the Swather Special cross country meet at the Hesston Golf Course.

Harder won the Class 3-2-1A junior boys’ race in 18:05.7, the third best boys’ time of the day in all classifications and grades.

“I trained a ton this summer,” Harder said. “I trained with Distance Inc., out of Salina. They gave me a workout. I came in here and wanted to keep up with (Great Bend’s) Kaiden (Esfeld). I was able to keep up with him for two to 2 1/4 miles. He started pushing. It was a really good race and I was thankful for the Lord for a good summer of training.”

While the large-school runners and small-school runners ran together in each of the eight races divided by grade and gender, the two divisions were scored separately.

Esfeld was 18th in Class 5A state last year.

“I’d really like to break 16,” Harder said. “That’s my crazy goal. That’s what I’m shooting for.”

Harder was fifth in Class 2A at state, helping lead the Warriors to a state title for the second straight season.

“We’re two-year defending state champion, but we lost a bunch of seniors,” Harder said. “It would be amazing if our team could win again. We’ll see how it goes. We have a really good team this year.”

Other top area finishers for the 3-2-1A boys were Eli Nord of Berean Academy, who finished third in the senior race in 18:59.1; Micah Dahlsten of Hesston, who placed 10th in the junior race in 20:09.2; and Elias Simkins of Berean Academy, who finished seventh in the freshman race in 21:18.5.

Top area finishers for the 3-2-1A girls included Elise Clark of Hesston, who placed fourth in the senior race in 23:38.6; Elena Flask of Halstead, who placed fifth in the senior race in 23:47.5; and Teagan Smith of Berean Academy, who placed ninth in the senior race in 25:29.2.

The top area team finish went to the Newton boys, taking second in the Class 6-5-4A division. The Newton girls finished seventh.

Top 10 finishers for the Newton boys were Kaden Anderson, who took third in the senior race in 19:33.1; Alex Barnett, who took fifth in the senior race in 19:50.1; Clayton Kaufman, who took eighth in the senior race in 20:57.5; Caleb Koontz, who took ninth in the senior race in 21:08; Simon Secor, who took fourth in the junior race in 20:04.2; Nick Treaster, who took ninth in the junior race in 21:24.0; Drew Dillon, who took 10th in the junior race in 21:26.9; Michael Southern, who placed 10th in the sophomore race in 22:28.8; and Lucas Kaufman, who placed second in the freshman race in 20:34.0.

Top 10 finishers for the Railer girls were Ella Mayes, who took ninth in the senior race in 26:38.6; and Aspen Schmidt, who finished sixth in the junior race in 24:53.8; 

Among area schools in the Class 3-2-1A division, the Berean Academy boys finished fourth, followed by Hesston in seventh, Goessel in 15th and Halstead in 17th. Among the area girls, Berean Academy was 11th, followed by Halstead in 20th and Goessel in 22nd.

Team champions were Southeast of Saline in both the 3-2-1A girls and 3-2-1A boys, Great Bend in the 6-5-4A girls and Garden City in the 6-5-4A boys.

Race winners in the 3-2-1A girls were Jentrie Alderson of Smoky Valley in the senior race in 20:20.1, Alayna Cossart of Minneapolis in the junior race in 22:32.2, Maddy Krueger of Minneapolis in the sophomore race in 23:04.4 and Jenera Ardery of Holcomb in the freshman race in 23:15.4.

Other boys’ race winners in the 3-2-1A division were Dylan Sprecker of Southeast of Saline in the senior race in 17:12.9, Levi Allen in the sophomore race in 18:32.2 and Brady Wells of Sacred Heart in the freshman race in 18:51.6.

Class 6-5-4A girls’ race winners were Emilia Diaz of Great Bend in the senior race in 22:02.8, Chloe Clevenger of McPherson in the junior race in 22:18.0, Eliana Beckham of Great Bend in the sophomore race in 22:42.3 and Diane Alvarez of Great Bend in the freshman race in 21:59.8.

Class 6-5-4A boys’ race winners were William Griffin of Salina Central in the senior race in 18:32.3, Kaiden Esfeld of Great Bend in the junior race in 17:28.3, Josiah Munoz of Garden City in the sophomore race in 19:26.4 and Hayden Nemechek of Garden City in the freshman boys in 20:25.8.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com