Cross country comes out victorious

Brianna Carmack, Print Editor-and-Chief

Manhattan High cross country came out first overall in the Centennial League at Stateland Park last Saturday, now ensuring a spot at Regionals. 

“The team finished first and then we won all the individual titles and [I] just felt extremely proud and even beyond that, so many ran the fastest they have run this season,” head coach Susan Melgares said. “I’m super proud of the work that they’ve put in to allow them to achieve those performances.”

As a team, MHS finished first in all Varsity and J.V. races. Washburn Rural finished in second in the girls Varsity race and Hayden finished in second in the boys Varsity race. Washburn Rural has been one of the toughest teams the girls Varsity team has had to face this season.

“Washburn girls have… they beat us at the midseason meet,” Melgares said. “We beat them at our meet, maybe once on their home course. So, we knew it was going to be a battle and it certainly was. The kids really fought tooth and nail to get the win.”

Individually, senior Daniel Harkin was the first to the finish line in the boys Varsity race with a time of 15:35.8 and junior Jenna Keeley finished in first in the girls Varsity race with a new P.R. of 18:45.7. Harkin and Keeley have been the top finishers in every Varsity meet for this entire season, making them the top boy and girl runner on MHS. 

Senior Julian Avila and sophomore Audrey Cook had their first individual win in each of their races for the first time at League. Avila finishing in 18:00.1 and Cook finishing in 21:32.7. 

For some seniors, this was the last race they would be competing in. Therefore, some had plans to make this their best race yet in order to end on a good note. Senior Stephen Lind ended up setting a new personal record by about a minute and a half during his last race.

“It was originally 22 flat, but now it’s 20:40.9,” Lind said. “I really needed that to finish my high school career.”

Senior Zach Paquette finished with a season best during his last race. 

“I’d say my biggest goal was to set a new PR,” Paquette said. “I didn’t quite get there. I was

about 10 seconds off. I did set a season best, so that was one goal accomplished.” 

Many of the seniors who raced in their last meet had the intention of running the hardest that they could, accepting any time they got and being proud of their performance throughout their time on the MHS cross country team.

“I just wanted to go out there, run my hardest and be proud of how I performed at my last meet of high school,” Paquette said.

The community built from the cross country team has created some of the most memorable moments that the seniors have in regards to their high school experience. Friendships and bonds have been made that would’ve never happened in the same way if they didn’t join the cross country team.

“Most of my closest friends are in cross country,” Paquette said. “We’ve had that opportunity to really grow a lot closer to each other.”

Working with some of the underclassmen has also been a great opportunity that the seniors have had during this season.

“[I’m] just going to miss running in groups with the lower classmen,” Lind said. “I really enjoyed getting to know the freshmen very well.”

The seniors encourage all students who have a slight bit of interest in cross country to participate. For them, it has been some of the greatest times that they have had throughout high school and highly recommend joining the team. Along with that comes words of wisdom to stay strong and don’t give up.

“Just keep running and stay strong,” Lind said. “Don’t ever let anyone hold you back. Don’t let anyone prevent you from crossing the finish line. You have the ability to run hard and run fast because it’s not how hard you work, it’s how you work hard. In this case, it’s not how hard or fast you run, it’s how you run hard and how you run fast.”

Regionals will be hosted at Warner Park on Oct. 24.