GCHS boys cross country wins Swather Special at Hesston

GCHS Athletics

GCHS girls finish in second

HESSTON - The unusual format for the Hesston Swather Special cross country meet was certainly met with a lot of happy faces among the Garden City High School program following Thursday’s 2021 run over the Hesston Golf Course.

With each of the four classes competing independently of the others, the top seven boys and top five girls runners from all classes were counted in the overall team scores. 

The Buffs’ boys garnered the top team spot with 16 points while the girls placed second with 24 points, well back of Great Bend’s winning score of seven points. That total was two points in front of Western Athletic Conference opponent Hays’ 26 points. Additionally, the Buffs competed in the Class 4-5-6A division.

The Buffaloes’ boys utilized two class winners in freshman Hayden Nemechek and sophomore Josiah Munoz to propel the team to a championship with just 16 points. That easily outdistanced runner-up Newton’s 40 points.

Nemechek ran a 20:25.8 to capture the rookie class over the 5-kilometer layout at Hesston. Munoz’ winning mark was 19:26.4. Also counting in those seven scores were juniors Evan Gurrola and Devin Chappel, who took second and third, respectively, with times of 19:14.6 and 19:55.7. Senior Kenji Craig, taking second in his category, was clocked in 19:07.3, the top mark among all Buffs’ runners.

“I was really impressed with how everybody handled the pressure of such a big race,” Craig said afterward. “Although the times weren’t great, winning this race gave us all a confidence boost and some momentum going into Hays next week.”

Freshman Tartan Castro placed third in his class competition with a time of 20:50.7. Non-counting scores but top five finishes came from sophomore Alan Roman in 21:16.6 and senior Isaiah Casados with a mark of 19:38.5.

“It was great seeing our young guys go out strong and place really well in their races,” Casados said after his fourth-best team time of the day. “It excites me to see how we’ll shape out and continue to improve throughout the rest of the season.”

For the girls, freshman Cate Wiese took third with a team best time of 23:09.5 while junior Jocelyn Sosa had the highest finish, taking second in her age group in 23:23.3. Junior Samantha Orozco was fifth in 24:51.5, freshman Natalie Guevara sixth in 24:50.9 and senior Maria Balderas eighth in a time of 25:41.8.

“I had to push through strong mentally to keep going,” Sosa said. “Although the course was longer, I felt good and am proud of what I was able to put out on the course. The experience there was great!”

Head coach Krista Linenberger was pleased with the team’s overall performance in just the second meet of the season.

“It was a great day in Hesston,” said Linenberger. “I loved the fight our runners showed on a long course during a long day (8 races in less than 3 hours). We stayed focused and goal-minded.”

Next up for the Buffalo squads will be the Hays High Invitational on Sept. 16.

Team Scores

Girls

1. Great Bend, 7; 2. Garden City, 24; 3. Hays, 26; 4. Liberal, 35; 5. McPherson, 37; 6. Salina South, 41; 7. Newton, 51; 8. Salina Central, 59.

Boys

1. Garden City, 16; 2. Newton, 40; 3. Liberal, 57; 4. Salina South, 67; 5. Salina Central, 72; 6. Hays, 90; 7. McPherson, 95; 8. Buhler, 110.