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Tiger cross country team hurt by ibjuries




On the men's side, the team Tiger cross country coach Jason McCullough had running in Friday night's season opener was not the one he envisioned at the start of preseason.

McCullough said he would miss five of his top runners at the University of Nebraska's Twilight Meet.

Freshman Seth Tophoj, a former standout at Hays High School, and his older brother Tyler will likely sit out as redshirts this fall due to academic issues, McCullough said. Tyler Tophoj, a sophomore in eligibility, might be able to run in the spring, McCullough added.

McCullough also lost Victor Montoya, a top junior college recruit, when he decided not to go to school this year. And, seniors Jared Shillington and Tanner Christensen also will redshirt due to injuries. Shillington has had shin and calf problems, limiting him to workouts just every other day. Christensen, an all-MIAA honorable mention pick last year, had surgery in the offseason, then developed an infection.

"Always going in, you're hoping to see improvement in our athletes," McCullough said. "Our men, little disappointed we're not going to be as strong as I thought. It will be good to see who steps up."

McCullough said junior Alex Hendee "kind of is our leader right now."

As well, freshman Cory Keehn set a Tiger freshman record in the time trial earlier this summer. And, McCullough looks for good things from sophomore Kyle Calvin, a former Ness City standout.

The injuries before the season "stings right now" said McCullough, who's never had so many, so early, in his seven seasons as coach.

"You expect some as the season goes along," McCullough said. "At the start of the season, you're usually fresh."

Luckily for McCullough, the Tiger women have stayed mostly injury-free. Only junior Gentry Linscott was expected to miss the season opener, due to a bulging disc.

"I think the women's side will be stronger than the last couple years," McCullough said.

The Tigers women are led by seniors Raven Boettger and Heidi Hines. Boettger is in her third year with the program, and Hines -- who is the school's indoor 3,000-meter record-holder -- is in her second year.

"Both of them are pretty strong," McCullough said.

McCullough also is high on freshman Alex Nelson, as well as redshirt freshman Hannah Robinson and sophomore Kylie Gaughan, a former Hays High runner.

"On the girls' side, I think we have a chance for a pretty solid season," McCullough said, "top three in our conference."

Sport Date Opponent Score
2/18 SW Baptist L 66-53
12/1 Oklahoma - Panhandle L 66-60 (OT)