Senior Will Kuenne got out to a fast start in Thursday’s districts, running his first mile in 5:03. He finished sixth to advance to the state meet. (Johnson Publications photo)

Senior Kaley Hauxwell gets some encouragement from her dad, Troy, as she makes her way around the course. She overcame a hamstring injury to become a four-time individual qualifier for the state meet. (Johnson Publications photo)

Sophomore Madison Brown qualified for the state meet in her first year running cross country. (Johnson Publications photo)

For seniors Will Kuenne and Kaley Hauxwell, four years of dedicated training will culminate when they compete in their final state cross country meet Friday. For sophomore Maddi Brown, she will be making a trip to the state meet in her first year of ru

    For seniors Will Kuenne and Kaley Hauxwell, four years of dedicated training will culminate when they compete in their final state cross country meet Friday.
    For sophomore Maddi Brown, she will be making a trip to the state meet in her first year of running cross country.
    The trio of Chase County runners earned their ticket to the state meet in Kearney with top 15 finishes in the C4 district at Ogallala last Thursday.
    For the second year in a row, the Longhorns have competed  in Class C as one of the smallest schools in the field.
    The Ogallala district is a highly competitive district, Coach Carl Zuege said.
    While neither of the teams qualified for the state meet, he was pleased with how well they competed against the field. “It was a nice day for our kids,” he noted.
    It wasn’t without some disappointment though. Senior Francisco Barrientos was making his way up through the field when he and another runner got tangled up and he went down.
    He came down on his wrist wrong and hurt it. It got worse as the race progressed, forcing him to drop out.
    Zuege said he was in 16th when he got hurt and had no question that he would have qualified for the state meet.
    Junior Kalen Wallin was closing in on the top 15 before a bout with asthma and allergies down the stretch moved him back in the field.
    Zuege said he really battled and put him in a position where he could have qualified for the state meet.
    For Hauxwell, qualifying for the state meet meant battling back from a hamstring injury about three weeks ago.
    After finishing third in districts last year, she settled for 13th but met her goal as a four-time state meet qualifier.
    Zuege said he was excited to she her qualify and feels the hamstring is getting better with time.
    Kuenne will be making his fourth state meet appearance, finishing sixth in last week’s district race.
    He qualified individually in Class C the last two years and the previous two years when the Longhorns qualifed as a team in Class D.
    Zuege said Kuenne wanted to go out faster at the start of the meet and try to stay with the lead pack.
    They decided there wasn’t a lot of risk with that approach since a top 15 finish was still probable.
    He ran a faster mile than normal, coming in at 5:03. He ended up with a third-place finish in a tough field.
    While it wasn’t exactly his style of race, Zuege said that extra bit of conditioning will help him at the state meet Friday.
 

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