KINGMAN - Though both the boys and girls squads of the Kingman High cross country team dipped below expectations at the Arizona Interscholastic Association Class 5A-II state meet on Saturday in Phoenix, the Bulldogs began making plans to improve and rebuild the respective programs.
The boys team set a goal to improve on last year's 12th-place finish but fell back three spots to 15th. Senior Wes Anderson led the Bulldogs with a 34th-place finish in 18.09 over the 3.1-mile course.
"Wes just missed a medal position," KHS coach Anne Bathauer said. "Had he pushed earlier, he would have medaled and improved our position."
The Bulldogs find themselves in position to show drastic improvement over the next two seasons, as two freshmen and two sophomores finished second through fifth for KHS. Jesse Peterson was second for KHS in 73rd place, followed by Anthony Smith (84), Andrew Karn (99) and Kevin Laird (102.) Junior Dominic Tapia finished 129th but did not qualify for scoring.
"For us, it was a building experience," Bathauer said. "The kids returning are really positive and motivated for what they can do in the future."
These returning runners believe they will have what it takes to compete for a state title in 2010.
"Here's a group of young guys who are motivated to be successful," Bathauer said. "As a coach, you want them to be hungry. I'm excited about the future."
The girls team took 18th place, led by freshman Heather Paulsteiner's 23:49, which was good enough for 83rd. Senior Lucy Gaytan was four spots behind Paulsteiner, and Bailey Lawson (101), Tiffany Reinoso (109) and Isabel Nava (134) rounded out the Bulldogs' top five.
"Heather ran a strong race from start to finish," Bathauer said. "For her, it's about getting the racing experience under her belt."
KHS will lose the services of Gaytan and Lawson for next season, requiring Bathauer to recruit runners who will be in attendance at KHS next year.
"As a coach, I want to get out and get as many kids actively involved in sports," Bathauer said. "My goal is to build this program up."