The Satanta Indians Cross Country team will work to try and get back to state this year, having sent two returning girls and one boy to state in 2017.
They might well have the numbers to do it too.
"We have two girls coming back for high school and five to seven boys, so that'll be the biggest high school team that we've had,” Satanta head coach Karen Burrows said. “I’m really excited about that."
This is only the third year the school has had cross country, so the program is still in the process of growing, she said.
Having returning runners with regional and state experience is still a relatively new thing for the Indians, Burrows said, and that’s something she hopes the team can capitalize one.
“The first year that we did cross country everything was new, and we had one senior that qualified for state but then he wasn't back the next year to give any advice,” Burrows said. “Now I've found a group of kids that know that regional course and they've been on the state course so I think that's gonna help a lot, just helping other kids understand how to run those courses, us having a better idea on what we need to do to train for those courses.”
Part of what they learned, and what the runners showed the coaching staff, was that the coaches needed to integrate more of almost no runner’s favorite thing into practice.
"They both had a hard time on the state course, so we're hoping to get some more hills in to get them ready to run the state course during training,” Burrows said.
But even finding hills, let alone running them, can be a challenge in sections of southwest Kansas.
"Haskell County is actually the flattest county in Kansas, so it's kind of hard for us to find hills to run,” Burrows said. “We have to go out into the country so it takes us about 10 or 15 minutes to drive out to any real hills. All of the hills are outside feed lots, so that gives you interesting smells when you're running."
Augmenting the experienced runners on the team are two or three strong freshmen runners Burrows said they should have, runners who ran for her while they were in junior high.
"I'm really looking forward to that,” Burrows said. “They're all really good kids, strong runners, they ran for me in junior high."
From a running-technique standpoint, Burrows said she wants to work with her team, especially the boys team, to teach them not to run too fast on their easy days.
“All of my boys think that every day has to be a race, and they're always competing with each other,” Burrows said. “So I'm trying to get them convinced to run their easy days easy so that they can run on their hard days hard."
Philosophically, she said she wants to teach the kids that if they are willing to put the work in, then you can get results.
"I think that's true in just about anything,” Burrows said.