The Manhattan High cross country teams will make their return to state next weekend after both teams finished as runner-ups at Milford State Park on Saturday.
The girls’ team was close to a first-place finish with a 44 team score, coming in just two points behind first-place Maize. Alaina Schroeder was the individual champion in a time of 14:45.9, 12 seconds ahead of second-place Deidra Walker of Maize.
On the boys’ side, Wichita North ran away with things in the team standings, putting three in the top four individually to finish with a 28 in the team standings. Manhattan came in second with a 51, which was 16 points better than third-place Maize. Chris Melgares (16:39.22) and James Leblow (16:44.28) finished fifth and sixth to lead the Indians.
“The kids competed tough today,” coach Susan Melgares said. “It’s very good to be one of the 12 qualifiers with the opportunity to compete next week. That’s not to be taken for granted and is a testament of how hard our kids have worked.”
Manhattan’s Christina Wankum finished in fourth overall in a time of 15:22.74 to bolster the girls’ score. Megan Ochoa (15:47.50) came in sixth, with Emily Van Natta (16:00.44) taking 11th. Lauren Wankum (16:45.73) finished in 22nd, with Toula Sweeney (16:54.76) taking 24th. Emilie Leibe (17:44.55) rounded things out in 36th for the Indians.
On the boys’ side, Michael Melgares (17:03.36) took 11th, with Isaiah Koppes (17:05.56) right behind in 12th. Isaac Blankenau (17:29.28) finished in 17th, with Cale Benne (17:42.43) in 20th. Nick Bandy (17:53.07) finished in 26th to round out the boys’ scores.
In a tough field at state among the top 12 teams, Melgares said the team is looking forward to seeing how they stack up.
“We will get to play the role of hunters at the state meet,” she said, “which should be fun.”
State for 6A cross country is held at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence each year, a course the Indians are familiar with. The 6A boys’ race is scheduled at 11 a.m., with the 6A girls’ race the last of the day, scheduled for 12:30 p.m.