Justin Carlson | opinion editor
It was a big weekend for girls cross country with the first regional championship in 27 years. WHS had three individual medalists with Payton Wurtz finishing 2nd, Rebekah Stuhlsatz finishing 3rd, and Sophia Castillo finishing 7th.
Regionals were held at the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve National Park in Chase County. Heavy rains early in the morning resulted in a wet and muddy course that was tough on all runners. All the girls reported slower times due to the muck and misery.
“Nobody ran their best time because of the mud,” Stuhlsatz said. “We got excited because it’s something different that makes the race exciting. We just have to focus on not losing our footing through the race, but we’ve run in similar conditions during practice so we were ready for it.”
It was a dominant victory for the girls with 20 points as a team and second place getting 44 points. Coach Roger Alderman said “We had four runners cross the finish line before the other state qualifying teams had their 2nd runners finish.”
Wurtz said she is proud of both her individual and team performance. “We’ve worked really hard to get where we are right now.”
The cross country coaches poll still lists Wabaunsee as the #7 team in the state, a ranking that the Chargers see as extra motivation. “It’s frustrating to see the coaches poll where we’re ranked behind a team that didn’t even qualify for state, so I think we have more motivation to prove them wrong,” Wurtz said.
Boys Cross Country did not qualify, but achieved some solid times. “The boys ran one of their better meets of the season, finishing ahead of 3 schools including 2 that had beaten us previously.” says Alderman.
The team competes at 10 a.m. Saturday in Victoria.
Stuhlsatz, who is running at state for the third straight year, said this time it’s different. “I’m going with the whole team. It’s the first time the team has traveled to Victoria (as state was previously in Wamego) and I think we’re all excited to compete.”