The 17th hole at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course will be the test during Monday’s Region VI cross country meet, hosted by Garden City Community College.
The uphill climb as part of the men’s and women’s courses will separate the pack in what GCCC assistant Doug Marshall considers as tough a test as junior college teams face during the season.
“It’s really difficult. I think you can tell, especially when you look at some of the times,” Marshall said. “I think Sandra (Szpott) ran maybe a 19- or 20-minute at our home meet, and two weeks later at Fort Hays State, she runs 17.
“That’ll show you how tough it is. We’re hoping that’ll give us an advantage over the other teams in the region.”
Spzott has won all but one of the meets she has competed in this fall, coming into the season as the top-ranked junior college women’s runner. The only time she didn’t win, she took second to Colby’s Winnie Kibet by 20 seconds on Kibet’s home course.
Perhaps the Busters’ home course advantage will flip the result Monday, which is set for a 10:30 a.m. start at Buffalo Dunes, with the men competing first, followed by the women.
“Obviously, the expectation every time she goes out and competes is to win,” Marshall said of his top women’s runner. “She’s one of the best distance runners in the nation, so the No. 1 goal is to win.”
She’ll lead a Busters’ team that includes Garden City’s Hannah Roemer and Holcomb’s Zoe Engler.
“We want to go out and compete hard,” Marshall said. “We have four girls that can run behind Sandra and compete at the regional meet. Being at home, we want to finish at a good spot.”
It’s same for the men, Marshall said.
“We’re just really looking to compete at a high level,” he said. “They’ve done a really good job of staying focused. They get a chance at home to go out and run really fast.”
The men are led by sophomore and Garden City High School graduate Oscar Guzman.