The El Dorado High School girls and the Circle High School boys qualified for next weekend’s Class 4A State Cross Country Meet in Wamego.



The El Dorado High School girls and the Circle High School boys qualified for next weekend’s Class 4A State Cross Country Meet in Wamego.

The Wildcat girls qualified for State for the 21st consecutive year and won their 13th Regional title in that span at Saturday’s Regional Meet at Parsons. El Dorado finished with 73 points, just edging out Rose Hill (80) for the team title. Garnett snagged the third spot (98), just one point ahead of Circle (99).

El Dorado’s Molly Milbourn won individual honors in dominant fashion (15:59.34), winning by nearly 41 seconds. Kelly Nuckolls also medaled, placing seventh (17:26.67), while Kay Riedl finished 14th (18:07.49). Tessa Heslop finished 27th (18:55.06), Kayla Joyce placed 29th (18:59.91), Samantha Mulvaney was 34th (19:14.22) and Alley Nolan finished 35th (19:14.71).

“All seven of our runners placed in the top half of the field,” said EHS coach Ron Koppenhaver. “Molly ran an outstanding race on a tough course, and she’ll be right up there next week at State. Kelly has had a fantastic season, medaling in every race. Kay, Tessa and Kayla have been very solid for us the last four weeks, and Samantha and Alley finished up very well.”

The Circle boys finished third with 123 points, just one point behind runner-up Iola, while defending state champion Mulvane dominated the meet with just 23 points. Just missing State were Andover in fourth place (131) and El Dorado in fifth (136).

Circle’s Steve Gird finished eighth with a time of 18:14.50. He was followed by Will Sellars (22nd, 19:01.32), Jason Lauxman (29th, 19:13.62), James Sellars (30th, 19:14.43), Jameson Fay (38th, 19:26.03), Ben Harstine (46th, 20:00.49) and Ryan Wilson (72nd, 21:15.38).

“We had a couple of guys who struggled during the race; otherwise, we probably would’ve finished second,” said Circle coach Gary Wartick. “Still, we’re happy to make it through, considering how close it was between second and fifth. Our younger runners stepped up and helped us to get third.”

On the boys’ side, El Dorado sophomore Casey Nightengale qualified individually by placing 10th with a time of 18:33.58. Junior Ben Jiles just missed qualifying, placing 15th in 18:46.54. Following them were Seth Hadley (35th, 19:24.70), Dawson Brush (39th, 19:38.64), Michael Riedl (41st, 19:49.02), Parker Brush (49th, 20:04.61) and Spencer Jensen (61st, 20:17.61).

“The guys were very disappointed,” Koppenhaver said. “There was too much of a gap between Ben and Seth. Seth didn’t have a great race, and Spencer hasn’t been the same since catching that virus around his heart a few weeks back. Michael had a strong race, but it wasn’t enough to get us into the top three. The State Meet will be tough for Casey because running as an individual is always tougher than running as part of a team.”

It was an even tougher finish for the Circle girls, just one point out of qualifying for State. Cassidy Treweeke was the top finisher in 13th (18:02.13) while Page Lindstrom was 17th (18:21.82). Tara Mollhagen finished 24th (18:49.20), Jamie Winningham placed 25th (18:53.46), Jacey Zerr was 28th (18:55.34), Rachel Bruce placed 41st (19:40.92) and Hanna Thaller finished 44th (19:49.29).

“That was a heart-breaking finish for us,” Wartick said. “Cassidy and Page both ran very well, but Tara was having problems with the course and the elements and didn’t have her best race. We only lose two seniors (Mollhagen and Thaller), and hopefully the girls will learn from this meet how important every single runner is in every meet.”

Classes 4A through 1A will compete at the State Meet at Wamego Country Club Saturday. The 4A boys’ race will start at 9:30 a.m. while the 4A girls’ race will be at 10:30.