All eyes on HCC cross country this fall – Sports – The Hutchinson News
The Hutchinson Community College cross country teams find themselves at the center of attention this fall as the only sport on campus competing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But for the most part, according to key players and to head coach Justin Riggs, this season will be business as usual.
“We always want to do well and represent our school – that doesn’t change this year,” Riggs said. “Fall is one of my favorite seasons because I like to watch our football team and our volleyball team and other fall sports. I feel for those sports, and it’s going to be a bit different feeling around campus, but I think the pressure level is normal for cross country because we always want to do well.”
Having the opportunity to compete this fall, while every other sport has been postponed until the spring, is a fortunate feeling for Blue Dragon cross country runners.
“We got extremely lucky,” Hutchinson sophomore Teagan Flanagan said. “My No. 1 fear was not being able to come back and run this season. We’re making the best of this season.”
Flanagan will lead a men’s team of seven runners. Flanagan is joined by fellow sophomores Andrew Holts, Jacob McElhanon, and Matthew Schrag, while freshmen Jareth Carrasco, Cameron Delaney, and Aaron Geissinger round out the lineup.
“Tanner has come a long way, and so has Matthew Schrag, a Hutch High graduate,” Riggs said. “I think we have some great sophomore leadership on the guys side.”
The women only have two sophomores on the roster, but both sophomores could be in store for big seasons.
Sheila Too and Megan Miller will be counted on for leadership on and off the course.
Too was the top finisher for the Blue Dragons in each race and earned all-region and all-conference honors last season. Too placed 50th at NJCAA Nationals.
“I think this season will be good for me, and I am going to try and push myself to my limit,” Too said.
Miller, a Buhler High graduate, ran a personal best time of 20:49.6 and competed in every event for the Blue Dragons last season.
“It’s really special to us that we’re getting this opportunity, and we’re going to treasure it as best as we can,” Miller said. “Workouts are going really well so far. The heat in the afternoon is a struggle, but w’ere doing our best to push through it.”
Four freshmen – Louise Cocking, Noel Hidalgo, Izzy Wheeler, and Jurney Yung – will compete for the three other spots in the top five.
“Our whole women’s team is tough and has bought in,” Riggs said. “I’m excited for what they can do. You never really know what’s going to happen until you start racing, but I really like the effort and energy level they’re putting in.”
Hutchinson opens its season on Sept. 4 at the annual Terry Masterson Twilight Classic. Action from Fun Valley Sports Complex is scheduled to begin at 9:05 p.m.
“The Masterson will feature mostly conference schools this year – I think there will only be four or five conference schools that won’t be there – so we’re going to see real early on where we stack up in the conference,” Riggs said.