There were some big moments for the Pratt High School boys and girls crosscountry teams again this season.
The boys’ team had a rebuilding year, with only one varsity runner returning. They started off well, capturing first at the season’s inaugural event at Hoisington. They also took third as a team at their home invitational and brought home a third from league. “That was probably our boys best effort of the season, to come home with 3rd from the CKL,” head coach Kathy Hitz opined.
The girls had even more team success, winning at Hoisington and their own home meet. They were edged out by Haven by one point to take second at league, and they also took seconds at Chaparral and at a tough Goddard meet.
The highlight came in the next to last week of the year as the girls ran away with the regional title to earn their second consecutive trip to state as a team. Although the state meet didn’t go as hoped (getting 11th), it could not take away from the other things the girls accomplished throughout the year.
Individually, the boys were paced by junior Brendan Pribil who finished in the top 10 in 5 of 8 races this year. His best time was 18:07 turned in at Sterling.
Joseph Loomis was Pratt’s #2 runner, who posted 6 top-20 finishes and a 19:10 season-best time.
A jumble of runners filled the 3-10 slots, with various combinations running on varsity from week to week. Josh Powell, Cooper Crump, Caleb Hitz, Hayden May, Chance Reh, Zach Claussen, Will Fellhoelter and Zach Will all jockeyed for positions. Their times ranged from 20:06 to 21:26. The only Greenback not to log any varsity miles this season was soph Dakota Venard.
For the girls, senior Kaylah Romine had a breakout season, pocketing 5 gold medals along the way including the prestigious regional championship. She was at or under the 16 minute barrier five times this season, including at the difficult state course, with her best time a 15:35 at Sterling. She topped off her season with a 7th place state medal at Wamego.
“I knew Kaylah would have a great season,” Coach Hitz remarked. “She has been such a hard worker the past four years, and has gotten better and better every season. I just knew this year was going to be her time, and it was.”
Freshman Ruth Anthony burst onto the scene this season, finishing in the top 10 in every race until blowing up her ankle at state. She posted a 16:24 at Sterling for her best effort of the campaign.
Nichole Moreland battled health issues at times throughout the season, but contributed in a big way at key times. Her 11th place at regional helped solidify the Greenbacks team victory.
Page 2 of 2 - Cassidy Cronister was a valuable member of the supporting cast for PHS. “CJ (Cronister) had a great year,” Coach Hitz related. “She didn’t get lots of attention, but she just quietly and steadily went about her business. We could always depend on her.”
Carly Reid was usually the Frogs 5th scorer. She broke 18 at Sterling with a 17:57. Chloe Cannata was often the pusher. She missed some meets with injury, and courageously ran at times with shins at less than 100%.
Probably the biggest issues facing the girls’ team this year were injuries and other health concerns.
At times, Hitz had to bring up JVs to fill varsity spots in order to qualify as a team. Without Katie Buhler filling in at the Pratt Invitational, for example, the Greenbacks would not have won their home meet.
For next year, the boys team returns intact. No one will be lost to graduation.
Hitz believes the boys have potential for next year, having gained experience this season. “We need to get in some miles and find some leadership and our boys could be much improved next year,” she said.
Another state run is not out of the question for the girls next season, as everyone but Romine could be back. Injuries and other health issues are a concern however, as the girls won’t be deep. Just a few runners being sidelined could make it a real numbers game for Coach Hitz next season.
2012 is in the archives, and a good season it was, especially for the girls’ team with numerous individual medals, a regional championship and a state trip to their credit.