High School Sports

Clearwater girls take their turn at 4A regional

GODDARD — Not much has separated the Buhler and Clearwater girls cross country programs in recent years.

Both have established strong presences at the state level and every year the two meet, usually for the first time, to determine the regional winner.

For the past six seasons each has alternated the title, continuing on Saturday afternoon at Lake Afton as Clearwater edged its rival by six points to win the team title at the Class 4A regional. Both teams will go to state, as will third-place Andale.

"Some year I'd like to be able to beat them two times in a row because they are so good," Buhler coach Ivan Torres said.

This year may have been a little more surprising, as Buhler was without top runner Shelby Nelson. Still, the Crusaders packed well together and kept it suspenseful until the officials results were read.

"I thought we ran really well," said Buhler's Katie Winter. "We all went out really fast and we ran really well as a team."

Clearwater received solid races from its usual top five in Michelle Babb (second in 16:25), Kristen Babb (10th, 16:56), Tracy Rausch (14th), Logan Davis (15th) and Cheyenne Layton, punctuated by races from the two seniors, Michelle Babb and Rausch.

"This year we were really going after them," Babb said, referring to Buhler. "But they're all really nice and we get along real good, so it's fun."

Ellyn Willse was Buhler's top finisher in 16:30 for third place. After the race the runners from Buhler carried around miniature stuffed Lions.

"It's just kind of a club for if you have a heart of a lion," Buhler's Carly Berblinger said. "To get into that club means you really fought hard the whole season and it shows you are determined."

Clearwater coach Jeff Laha was impressed by both teams' performances.

"We usually don't get a chance to see them before regionals," Jeff Laha said. "It's kind of hard to compare times going in, but it seems like it doesn't matter what the times are going in, it's always close."

Carroll wins 5A races — Lake Afton was also the site of a Class 5A regional, which had few surprises. Bishop Carroll won the team title in both races and Hutchinson qualified both teams to the state meet, as well.

The duel between Hutch's Cameron Sprague and Hays' Josh Munsch lasted for most of the boys race, until Sprague pulled away at the final big hill. Sprague won the race in 16:27, five seconds faster than Munsch.

"I knew right after the hill I'd have to kick it in and get my turnover going because the hill slows you down," Sprague said. "Then I just tried to bring it in the rest of the 600 (meters)."

Carroll's girls' team put five in the top nine, highlighted by the one-two finish of Kaelyn Balch and Anastasiya Menestrina. Balch entered with a foot injury, but said after the race it was feeling "fine." She won the race in 14:47 and was followed by Menestrina in 15:37.

"I honestly don't know where that came from," Menestrina said. "That was unexpected, even from me."

Class 4A

Boys

Team — Ulysses 91, Hugoton 93, Hesston 94, Pratt 113, Scott City 121, Clearwater 180, Smoky Valley 184, Colby 188, Buhler 232, Cheney 233, Maize South 260, Andale 267, Haven 329.

Individuals — 1. Mendoza, Ulysses, 17:12; 2. McDaniel, Scott City, 17:20; 3. Baumgartner, Hesston, 17:31; 4. Weber, Hesston, 17:39; 5. Bean, Wellington, 17:50; 6. Perez, Pratt, 17:51; 7. Jimenez, Hugoton, 17:55; 8. Alstrom, Cheney, 17:57; 9. Weaver, Hugoton, 18:04; 10. Anders, Wellington, 18:06.

Girls

Team — Clearwater 59, Buhler 65, Andale 86, Hugoton 125, Scott City 127, Ulysses 152, Pratt 172, Haven 210, Cheney 212, Smoky Valley 238, Hesston 254, Maize South 337.

Individuals — 1. Becker, Pratt, 15:19; 2. M. Babb, Clearwater, 16:25; 3. Willse, Buhler, 16:30; 4. Meierhoff, Ulysses, 16:32; 5. Kaus, Colby, 16:37; 6. Lane, Andale, 16:41; 7. Beckman, Scott City, 16:49; 8. Nilles, Andale, 16:50; 9. Neira, Hugoton, 16:53; 10. K. Babb, Clearwater, 16:56.

Class 5A

Boys

Team — Bishop Carroll 36, Hutchinson 66, Liberal 71, Hays 72, Great Bend 142, Arkansas City 173, Winfield 190, West 199.

Individuals — 1. Sprague, Hutchinson, 16:27; 2. Munsch, Hays, 16:32; 3. Tophoj, Hays, 16:42; 4. Thor, Carroll, 16:43; 5. Kissling, Carroll, 16:50; 6. Riggs, Liberal, 17:07; 7. Hampton, Carroll, 17:13; 8. Wise, Hutchinson, 17:21; 9. Garcia, Carroll, 17:25; 10. Garcia, Great Bend, 17:38.

Other state qualifiers—Fort, Hays; Bizzell, Hays.

Girls

Team — 1. Bishop Carroll 24, Hutchinson 73, Great Bend 77, Hays 80, Arkansas City 138, Liberal 142, Winfield 183, West 241.

Individuals — 1. Balch, Carroll, 14:47; 2. Menestrina, Carroll, 15:37; 3. Torres, Great Bend, 15:42; 4. Kasra, Hays, 16:00; 5. McCaulley, Carroll, 16:07; 6. Gaughan, Hays, 16:20; 7. Tholstrup, Carroll, 16:22; 8. Maple, Hutchinson, 16:26; 9. Sponsel, Carroll, 16:29; 10. Lucero, Liberal, 16:30.

Individuals_1. Maki, Kapaun, 14:55; 2. Ahlstedt, Newton, 16:03; 3. Stanborough, Emporia, 16:08; 4. Loeffler, Newton, 16:14; 5. Wills, A. Central, 16:17; 6. Coffman, Newton, 16:35; 7. Nowak, McPherson, 16:37; 8. Reese, McPherson, 16:38; 9. Chiroy, Emporia, 16:39; 10. Sellew, Andover, 16:40.

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