Defending Champs Maize South, Hugoton Moving Up in Latest Classification Changes

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The Kansas State High School Activities Association caused little more than a stir in the state's cross country scene when it released its annual shift in classifications this week.

It was almost as if the state's governing body was putting everything back in its proper place.


Maize South, which was moved to 4A last year and subsequently whipped the competition at the state meet, has returned to class 5A, where it had competed for numerous years.


And Hugoton, which swept the class 3A state titles last year, will go back to 4A.


In other words, Maize South's and Hugoton's road to repeat titles just got a lot tougher. Each joins a division where they will no longer be considered a pre-meet favorite going into the state meet, but rather in a mix of teams that will have to scratch and claw to get onto the podium.


Andover Central, which placed second at state in the class 4A girls division and third in the boys, is likely the team to beat in class 4A now.


Maize South re-joins the division where the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas, St. James Academy, Blue Valley Southwest and Mill Valley await.


Otherwise, there were only minor shifts in the state's classifications, affecting a few individual races at this year's state meet and not really causing much stir to what appears to be the power structure in the team races.


Bryce Merriman of Maize South had the No. 1 time in class 4A before his team's switch. Now, he's No. 1 in class 5A, but he'll have to contend with a bit stiffer competition as Blue Valley Southwest's Dylan Miller (15:58.0) and St. Thomas Aquinas' Ethan Marshall (15:58.1) have both run sub-16:00 this season.


The depth in class 5A is the best in Kansas. Aside from the three sub-16:00 runners, the division has 34 athletes who have run 17:00 or better this season.


Jack Thomas of Scott Community had the No. 1 time in class 4A, where he was expected to challenge defending state champion Lakelin Conrad of Wichita Collegiate for the individual title this year.


Instead, he'll take on class 3A's defending champion - Owen Pearce of Kingman, who has that division's top time this season at 16:01. Thomas has run 16:05 this season, setting up what appears to be a great race between the two at the state meet in late October.


St. John-Hudson sophomore Aj Miller saw his team move from class 2A to 1A, where he will now have the fourth best time in the division.


Marmaton Valley also moved from class 2A to 1A, where senior Shelby Yoho will now have the No. 7 time in that division.


Click to the next page to view the full list of classifications for the 2017-2018 school year