CORE GROUP READY TO TAKE DRAGONS TO NEXT LEVEL

The 2018 Blue Dragon men's cross country team opens the new season on Friday with the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic at Fun Valley.
The 2018 Blue Dragon men's cross country team opens the new season on Friday with the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic at Fun Valley.
INFORMATION BOX

BLUE DRAGON MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY

Terry Masterson Twilight Classic

When: Friday, August 31, 2018

Where: Fun Valley, Hutchinson, KS

Women's Race: 8:30 p.m.

Men's Race: 9:05 p.m.

Results: Heartland Timing (available after each race)

 Meet Information

 

Parking: Main Fun Valley lot on west side of complex.

Admission: Free to public

Click for Course Map

Hutchinson CC Sports Information

The 2017 Hutchinson Community College men's cross country team had a core group of freshman runners who helped the Blue Dragons to the best national placing since 2014.

That entire group is back and fourth-year head coach Justin Riggs is hopeful the Blue Dragon men can finish even higher in 2018.

The Blue Dragons open the 2018 season on Friday at home with the third-annual Terry Masterson Twilight Classic at Fun Valley. The women's race begins at 8:30 p.m. and the men's race around 9:05 p.m.

"We return a lot of sophomores and that's a good thing," Riggs said. "That will help us."

Connor Kaufman was the top Blue Dragon runner at nationals last season, finishing 60th overall. He was the first Blue Dragon men's runner to break the 27-minute mark in an 8K race since Forrest Dreyer ran 26:55 at the 2014 NJCAA Championships in Lubbock, Texas. Kaufmann ran a career-best 8K time of 26:44.3.

Jared Stark, Kade Gerlach, Grant Clothier and Myles Hansen all ran career-best times at nationals.

Stark was Hutchinson's only other Top 100 finisher with an 89th-place time of 27:06.4. Gerlach was 149th with a time of 27:47.6. Clothier was 155th in 27:52.4 and Hansen was 171st in a time of 28:00.5. Tony Ibarra was 241st in a time of 29:04.3

"Connor Kaufmann was our top guy back from last year and Jared Stark is another strong returner," Riggs said. "Kade Gerlach is another sophomore who's going to help. He was good in cross country, but had a breakout season in track last year."

Two Blue Dragon freshmen are worth keeping an eye on. Riggs has recruited a pair of runners from Kenya to run for the Blue Dragons in Sylvestre Kibarar and Andrew Kibet.

Riggs is hoping the Dragons have a pair of runners now who can run in the lead packs of races.

"With some of the new rules, it's easier to recruit some international talent," Riggs said. "We are hoping those three kids (including Hutch women's runner Lisayo Ewoi) can be front runners. We've had good teams the last few years, but never had a runner up front in the race. That will help us climb in the team standings this year."

The Blue Dragons will run in five regular-season meets in 2018. After the Masterson Classic, the Dragons travel to Missouri Southern Stampede on September 15, Emporia State on October 6, and Fort Hays State on October 25 before heading to Winfield for the Region VI Championships on October 27.