Rarely does any team enjoy the success that the Manhattan High School boys cross country team did this season.
The team won the 6A state championship Saturday at the Rim Rock course outside Lawrence. And for that we offer our congratulations. As a story in Sunday’s Mercury noted, all of Manhattan’s runners finished in under 17 minutes, a feat they achieved during most meets; so dominant were the Indians that five of them finished in the top 11.
Those were Chris Melgares, second; Jack Keeley, fifth; Jackson Schroeder, sixth, Josue Alvarado, seventh and Isaiah Koppes, 11th. Other indications of the team’s depth were that Mike Melgares was able to medal by finishing 17th but did not contribute to the team score and that Manhattan’s seventh runner was good enough to finish 31st — in a meet with the best teams and best runners in Kansas.
This team wasn’t powerful just at the state meet; it was dominant all season. Manhattan’s varsity placed first in every meet it entered. In the first meet of the year and the only home meet, at Warner Park, Manhattan’s top five runners contributed to a perfect score of 15 in a sport in which 1 point is awarded for first place, 2 points for second, 3 for third, etc.
At the Emporia meet, Manhattan won with 21 points. At the Missouri Southern Stampede — an important regional meet at which teams from Arkansas and Texas as well as Kansas and Missouri participated — Manhattan’s 39 points easily outdistanced Bentonville, Ark.’s 113. At the other large regional meet, at Lawrence’s Rim Rock, Manhattan became the first Kansas team ever to win. The boys also won the Junction City meet with 17 points, the Centennial League Meet with 16 points and the Regional meet with 17 points.
Head coach Susan Melgares, whose two sons competed for the Indians, is quick to credit the entire team’s determination. Not competing at State but pushing the others all season were Isaac Blankenau, Peter Gruenbacher, Alejandro Martinez and Sam Morgan. It was common for team members to run eight to 10 miles a day, simultaneously competing and working together, recognizing that team victories transcend individual medals.
Appropriately, Mrs. Melgares, an accomplished runner herself, also credited her two assistant coaches, Kory Cool and Todd Spreer. Mr. Cool is a distinguished alumnus of Manhattan High’s cross country program and ran for K-State as well; Mr. Spreer is a former Wamego cross country runner and Rim Rock champion.
Outstanding leadership, top-notch coaching, superb talent and unmatched determination were the ingredients of a memorable cross country season at Manhattan High. It is a team whose records could stand a long time.