Eickbush state bound for McPherson

 GREAT BEND – On Saturday's regional meet in Lake Barton, Courtney Eickbush punched her ticket to the Class 5A State Cross Country meet after placing 16th.

Eickbush ran a 21:20.78 and will be the only representative for the McPherson High School cross country team. She will compete in the state meet in Lawrence next week on Saturday.

Other runners for the Lady Bullpups were Evie Elder, who finished 31st in 22:20.03, Emily Hesket (52nd, 24.17.41) and Marissa Pearcy (55th, 24:47. 41).

None of the boys made the cut. Justus Hampton was McPherson's top finisher, placing 25th in 18:07.43. Cody Achilles came three places behind after running 18:14.68. Other runners that competed included Tito Mendez (41st in 18:54.66), Matt Powers (44th in 19:14.51), Riley Shelton (51st in 19:51.08), Brock Burgess (59th in 20:25.64) and Roman Mai (62nd in 20:43.32).

"The runners gave it their all today," McPherson's coach Aspen Lott said. "I had no doubt in any of their efforts. This group is full of some of the most determined, hard-working, dedicated kids I have coached. Proud of each and every one of them."

Heline, Lambert will represent Smoky Valley

 NORTON –Smoky Valley Cross Country team will two runners compete in the Class 3A state meet on Saturday after qualifying in regionals in Norton.

Ryan Heline will represent the boys after placing fourth with a time of 17:01. The boys finished sixth overall. Lukas Apel finished 25th in 18:16, and Stephen Peterson took 30th with the time of 18:27. Other runners included Justice Gardner (38th, 18:27), Garret Huffman (41st, 18:46), Traton Miller (46th, 19:00) and Adin Replogle (67th, 20:31).

Gracie Lambert will represent the Lady Vikings as she placed ninth with the time of 21:15. Olivia Bengtson finished 19th in 22:18. The Lady Vikings also finished sixth as a team. Other runners who participated were Breanna Pridd (33rd, 22:48) Kajsa Peterson (36th, 22:58), Zoe Grace (57th, 24:57). Lydia Peterson (63rd, 25:49) and Ashtyn Bryant (65th, 26:08).

"Unfortunately, neither the boys nor the girls' team qualified as a team," SV coach Holly Toll said. "It's heartbreaking when you work for qualifying all season, and then it doesn't end the way you want it to. However, I felt like we had some great performances and some personal bests. We look forward to cheering Gracie and Ryan on at Rim Rock next weekend."

 Becker, Martisko qualify at Buhler

 BUHLER – The rest of McPherson County runners met in Buhler for the Class 2A regionals.

On the boys' side, the county's big three of Morgan Becker, Christian Darrah from Canton-Galva High School and Nicholas Martisko of Inman High School once again were the top five finishers and qualified for state individually.

Of course, the biggest rival for the three is Asher Brown of Remington High School as he was the top finisher in regionals with the time of 17:35.6 Becker came from behind at 17:47.9. Martisko took third in 17:50.5, and Christian Darrah was fourth in 18:04.01.

"Both of the boys ran really good races today," Eagles' coach Lyle Silsby said about his Becker and Darrah. "Morgan traded the lead on and off several times with Nicholas Martisko of Inman and was in the lead at the two-mile mark. At about the half-mile to-go mark, Brown took the lead and never looked back. Christian ran with the lead pack throughout the first 2 miles, then fell back slightly. I am very proud of the boys and the way they competed today. They are both great kids and work hard in practice, and in the offseason, and it's great to see all that hard work pay off for them."

Martisko is not the only one who will represent Inman at state. Hannah Martisko, his sister, also qualified after placing seventh in 22:31.1.

Inman's coach Jay Parson looks forward to seeing the Martiskos represent the Teutons.

"Nicholas ran a very strong race, and he knew all he needed to do was finish regardless of his position amongst those three runners," Inman coach Jay Parsons said. "Peter Buller, who also ran in the race, turned in a very good time (about 40 seconds faster) in comparison to the time he ran just a week earlier on the same course.

"I knew there was a pretty chance Hannah would qualify," Parsons said. "Like Peter, she, too, turned in a very good time (about 20 seconds faster) in comparison to the time she ran just a week earlier on the same course. I think Hannah ran with determination that helped her set a level of running that propelled her into being a state qualifier. I am very happy for Nicholas and Hannah, who get to extend their season for another week."

Moundridge High School Cross Country team were also in attendance but neither qualified for state. Caleb Samlund came close after placing 11th in 18:54.1. Mac Unruh was 21st in 19:23.3, Landon Kaufman was 29th in 20:00.7, Carson Orpin was 34th in 20:21.6, Evan Grinder was 59th in 23:21.0, Mateo Roth was 66th in 24:07.6 and Nicolas Strauss was 77th in 25:46.5.

Myiah Logue represented the girls and finished 27th in 24:29.3.

The 2A State qualifiers will meet in Wamego on Saturday.

Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at pholland@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow him on Twitter@Petes_Picks_