KSHSAA has recently announced their changes to state cross country this season. The KSHSAA press release can be found at http://kshsaa.org/Public/CrossCountry/Main.cfm. Rim Rock Farm, owned by KU, will not be used this year due to restrictions set by the University. Instead the state meets will be spread across 3 locations, two of them being new to the state scene. While the course doesn't play the biggest role in the outcome of a race, it certainly plays a factor.
1A and 2A: Sand Plum Nature Trail, Victoria, KS
Located 11 miles east of Hays, the Sand Plum trail is home to Fort Hays State and Hays High. The Indians recently hosted their home meet there on September 17th, so a few schools have had the chance to see the course already this year. Though, most schools at that meet were larger than 2A. Despite being in the western half of the state, Sand Plum has its fair share of hills. It features short, steep hills that go in and out of a riverbed. Fort Hays has put a lot of effort into upgrading their course in recent years, so the atmosphere is fitting for a state meet. There is a dedicated awards stand, a fancy finishing chute, and a few helpful spectator trails.
3A and 4A: Wamego Country Club, Wamego, KS
If one thing is consistent in Kansas XC, it's that 4A state is in Wamego. This year will be no different, as the Red Raiders will play host for the 56th year in a row. 3A makes a return after running at Rim Rock since 2011. Wamego's course is well-known around the state for being designed for toughness. The switchbacks near the 1-mile mark and the placement of rolling hills are known to give runners trouble. 4A is familiar with this, but many 3A runners (including podium favorites Southeast of Saline and Smoky Valley) haven't seen this course before.
5A and 6A: Four Mile Creek Resort, Augusta, KS
This course is just east of Wichita off highway 400. The Shockers of Wichita State call this place home, and typically host a big high school meet early in the season in conjunction with their college invite. It unfortunately didn't happen this year, but last year's meet featured state contenders Blue Valley West, Wichita East, and Andover. This will likely be a fast meet, as this course is mostly small, rolling hills similar to those of Rim Rock's first mile. The race finishes on an incline, so that will bring a different factor into the competition as well.
Along with the changes in state locations, 2A and 3A regionals have undergone adjustments. These two classifications will utilize 6 regionals with 2 teams advancing from each regional. There were formerly 4 regions with 3 advancing teams. This can leave dramatic changes across the state, particularly in area where several good teams are located close together. Norton Community was notably left out in 2018 after being the 4th best girls' team in Milesplit's database for 3A, but was drawn into a regional with the top-3 teams. The change in regional format could spark similar situations if regional placement is strictly based on location.