Exceeding Expectations: Cross country coach, captain have high hopes for season, State

Matt Antonic, Sports Editor

Each day, the cross country team can be seen running throughout the area, taking designated routes from the school and back. Rain or shine, more than 100 runners spill sweat on the sidewalks, building fitness and endurance with the goal of becoming the best cross country program in the state of Kansas.

Coach Diana Huber said this year’s boys and girls teams make up one of her best ever varsity lineups.

“This is, for the boys and the girls, probably the strongest team that I have had,” Huber said. “I have had individuals that have been strong before but never a solid five people [on each team].”

Huber said returning the majority of last year’s teams has led to a truly special season.

“We didn’t really lose anybody from last year, so they used the summer to work hard, knowing that they could be the best teams that we’ve had in school history,” Huber said.

The team didn’t get to this point overnight. Summer runs and rigorous practices helped build a team ready to win, senior Blake Berger said. Most runners on the C-team and junior varsity can average around six miles per day. But for the varsity team, the number goes even higher.

“I would say the varsity could average seven to ten miles a day, and we’ve built up to that point,” Huber said.

Last season, the boys varsity placed second in the EKL and the Shawnee Mission Regional, qualifying the team for a place at State. The team concluded the season with a seventh place finish.

The girls varsity also placed second in the EKL and finished third in the regional competition, taking the final Shawnee Regional position at State. The season finished in Lawrence with a tenth place result.

Berger is a returning member of the boy’s varsity team, his second year at the highest level. As a captain this season, Berger said he is excited for the opportunity to lead and takes his job seriously.

“I keep everyone in control and make them try to do their best,” he said. “If they need someone to talk to, I’m always there.”

With a strong returning contingent of last year’s team returning this season, Berger said the team had a very high goal for the season.

“We want to come out and win State and bring the plaque home,” he said.

Berger said the team’s hard work since the summer gave it a chance to become champions.

“We’ve worked hard throughout since the summer,” he said. “We put over 50 miles in every week, and I think we can do it.”

 

Meet Recap: EKL

Both the boys and girls squads made a leap of success at the EKL meet on Oct. 16 at Bishop Miege High School.

All eight EKL teams began their quest toward a State championship. The boys team made its mark on school history in dramatic fashion, taking first place and winning EKL for the first time ever.

Seniors Joe Gorthy and Jake Mikuls and junior Joey Wiederholt took All-EKL Honors in the race.

The girls team also found success at the meet, taking fourth place overall.

Sophomore Kelsey Kinkade brought All-EKL recognition as well.

 

Meet Recap: Regionals

On Oct. 25, the boys and girls teams set off for the Regional competition, held at Shawnee Mission Park.

Needing to secure a spot in the top three to qualify for State, the runners faced a daunting task. However, the teams displayed tremendous poise and found successful results.

The boys team continues its run of dominance, taking first place overall, clinching a berth in the State finals. The girls team also managed to keep its season alive, taking the third and final Regional place at State.

The members of both teams will head to Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, Kansas, today, looking to make their mark and become the best teams in school history.