Cross country continues push for the podium after first three meets

Amelia Knopp, Senior Staff Writer

As the halfway point of the cross country season approaches, the Manhattan High runners continue to aim for podium finishes and learn from racing experiences. The team opened its season on the familiar hills of Warner Park on Sept. 3. The varsity boys averaged a time of 18:09 over five kilometers, leading to a second place finish. The girls varsity team took third place, clocking an average time of 22:18. Seniors led the charge for both teams, with Kolby Grogg finishing 14th overall for the boys and Saylor Salmans taking 11th on the girls’ side. 

The following weekend at the Emporia Invitational, the boys and girls teams finished second and sixth, respectively. 

On Sept. 17, the MHS runners traveled to Joplin, Missouri, to compete in the Missouri Southern Stampede. Sophomore Hayley Henningson was the first girl MHS runner to cross the finish line, running a season best time of 19:59.07 and earning 32nd place out of 325 runners. 

“[The race size] was kind of overwhelming,” Henningson said. “But during the race, I think it was better because when you have more competition, you run faster,” Henningson said. 

The girls placed 15th out of 39 teams and the boys took 28th out of 41 teams. 

“I think consistency and confidence [are key],” head coach Susan Melgares said. “And trusting in ourselves when we go out that we will have enough to finish strong and that we get strength from each other, getting the pack attack back together.”

According to Melgares, as the season progresses, the team is looking forward to more competitive racing opportunities and fun team activities. But for now, the runners have their sights set on the Rim Rock race in Lawrence on Sept. 24. 

Henningson said that the team recently completed its first Rim Rock simulation workout, better known as a “Rim Sim,” in order to prepare for the course’s steep and frequent inclines. 

“Basically, the coaches pick the hardest parts of the Warner course…it’s usually on the hilly parts,” Henningson said. 

The team has high hopes for success at Rim Rock. 

“Rim Rock is a meet we get good times at every year,” senior Aidan Starling said. “So we’re hoping to show those teams how we take hills and place high if we can.”