By: John Zetmeir
Both the Dodge City High School boys and girls cross country teams will try to defend their Western Athletic Conference titles on Thursday. Not only will both teams be trying to repeat as conference champions, they will get to do it in their hometown.
Dodge City will host the WAC championship meet at Mariah Hills Golf Course. It will be the first time that the current Red Demon runners have had a home meet since they have been in high school.
“I think it’s great,” Dodge City senior Marcelo Cruz said. “It gives us a lot of confidence and strength being around everybody. Maybe it will help us be a better team and win a WAC title.”
Cruz finished second individually at last year’s WAC championship meet. Seniors Alex Ultreras and Jason Luft also finished in the top-five last season.
The Dodge City girls will be competing for their third-straight WAC title. Last season, the Red Demons ran away with their second consecutive conference championship. After losing their top-two runners from last season, the Red Demons know that they will not be the favorite going into the meet.
“Liberal is the top team coming in and everyone knows that,” Dodge City girls head coach Brian Lenz said. “But we’re feeling a lot better about our chances right now.”
Coral Neave and Ayanna Hensley both finished in the top-10 a year ago. The two have been the Red Demons top-two runners for a majority of the fall. At the Salina Invitational last Saturday, Neave led the team with a fifth place finish while Hensley finished just behind her in sixth.
Luz Lopez, America Garcia and Lucy Lozano all finished in the top-five of last year’s WAC junior varsity meet. The trio will also try to help Dodge City bring home a third-straight championship.
After getting off to a slow start, Lenz has been happy with the way his team has progressed over the last month.
“We’ve come a long way this season,” Lenz said. “We started out pretty slow. We started out as a mediocre team but the girls’ focus over the last three weeks has been tremendous.”
The first junior varsity race is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at Mariah Hills with varsity following.