When Class 6A state cross country races begin this morning at Rim Rock Farm, a number of city high school runners will be looking to improve upon last year’s finish, while one team will do its best to chase down a state championship.
Both Lawrence High and Free State will be represented in the girls and boys races on the familiar local course, and the Firebirds’ girls will be the easiest to spot, being the only city squad to qualify as a team.
Free State’s Lynn Robinson, Molly McCord, Rosemary Newsome, Olivia Loney, Lauren Wethington, Bailey Sullivan and Ruthie Ozonoff helped FSHS take third place this past week at a regional and will have to contend with regional champions Maize, Olathe East, Shawnee Mission West, Derby and other highly rated programs, such as Shawnee Mission Northwest and Washburn Rural, when the girls race begins at 10 a.m.
A senior, Robinson was the only current member of the FSHS girls to compete at state in 2010, and she finished 14th.
A pair of Lawrence runners will be making return trips to state today. Junior Grace Morgan, who finished 30th last year, and senior Michala Ruder, 41st a year ago, both hope to move up in the rankings this time around, coach Brian Anderson said.
When the 6A boys race begins at 11:30 a.m., just three city runners will be competing.
The Free State boys, coached by Steve Heffernan, qualified two of their runners: Kain Anderson and Kamp Wiebe. Anderson placed second a week ago at the Shawnee Mission West regional and finished 10th at state last year. Wiebe finished 61st at state last season.
The Lions’ Gavin Fischer will be the lone LHS runner in the boys race. The junior, making his second straight state run, was 55th in 2010. He finished seventh at the SMW regional, and Anderson said Fischer has shown improvement over the last few weeks leading up to the season finale.