Red Demon runners return to state
By: John Zetmeir
Both Dodge City High School cross country teams will travel to Lawrence this weekend for the 6A state championship meet.
Qualifying for state is starting to become an expectation for the Dodge City girls cross country team. Even after losing five of their seven runners who made up last year’s team that took 7th out of 12 teams at state, the Red Demon girls qualified with a 3rd place finish at regionals last week.
This is the 3rd year in a row that the Dodge City girls have qualified for state as a team.
“This team has come a long way from the start of the year and have probably grown more than any team that I’ve ever coached,” head coach Brian Lenz said. “I like where we are going in. We’re not as talented as we’ve been the last couple of years but they’ve got the focus.”
Senior Coral Neave returned this season after finishing 27th at state last fall. Neave was the Red Demons’ top finisher in Lawrence last year.
“It’s breathtaking,” Neave said about competing at the state meet. “It’s such a big meet and the course is so beautiful. It will be my fourth time running it and I don’t think I’ll get over it.”
Neave and sophomore Ayanna Hensley are the only returners who competed at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence last year. As a freshman, Hensley finished 55th out of 104 runners.
The Dodge City boys head back to Rim Rock with added motivation from last year’s state meet.
In 2015, the Red Demons won both the Western Athletic Conference championship and a regional title on their way to state. When they got to Lawrence, things did not go the way that they planned.
The Red Demons finished 10th out of 12 teams, which included finishing behind a few teams that theyoutran during the season. With their top five runners back from last year, the Red Demons are looking to run a better race this time around.
“State last year was really disappointing,” Dodge City senior Brett Groth said after the WAC championship meet. “Our team slogan this year has been unfinished business. We’re keeping that in the back of our minds.”
The Red Demons defended their WAC title this season but fell by 1 point to Garden City in regionals last week.
Senior Alex Ultreras was the Red Demons’ top finisher last year at state, finishing 22nd individually. In 2014, senior Marcelo Cruz finished in the Top 20.
The girls’ race is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in Lawrence on Saturday. The boys will follow at 12:30 p.m.
“This team has come a long way from the start of the year and have probably grown more than any team that I’ve ever coach— Head coach Brian Lenz