Slippery course slows runners
Periodic bursts of rain kept Wamego's course slippery for Saturday's Class 4A State cross country meet, and even though Tonganoxie's top few runners ran good races, Coach Phil Williams said his team had an off-day at the meet.
Sophomore Kyle Norris said the slippery course played a factor in the race. But he said he preferred the mud to the freezing conditions at last year's state meet.
"It was a lot better than last year," Norris said. "But it was really slick and I saw a lot of runners slip and fall."
In fact, one Clay Center runner dropped out of the contention after he fell and hurt his back.
Tonganoxie's top two boy runners earned state medals: Norris placed 13th with a time of 17:05 and junior Alan Davis placed eighth with a time of 16:52.
Tonganoxie's lone girl qualifier, Laura Korb, finished in 24th place after staying in the top five for the first half of the race.
She ran the two-mile girl's course in 12:49.
The boys team finished in sixth place overall, which is lower than Williams had expected.
"We certainly could have finished at least fifth," he said.
In was a tight contest, and Tonganoxie fell short of fourth place by only 23 points.
Wrapping up his high school career, senior Matt Needham finished next for the Chieftains, taking 59th with a time of 18:21.
Sophomore Tony Aligo finished next for the team, finishing 68th with a time of 18:28.
Juniors Nathan Bailey and David Saultz finished in the same pack, with Bailey taking 89th in 19:09 and Saultz taking 19:18 for 91st.
Sophomore Tommy Powell finished in 98th place with a time of 19:37.
Although the Chieftains steadily improved and had several strong races throughout the year, a season's success is measured by more than just places and times.
It's also measured by what athletes take with them from the experience.
Kristin Korb, who just completed her senior season, said the camaraderie with her teammates was what she would miss most.
"The most memorable thing would be how we all fit together like a little family," she said. "Things like joking around while we're stretching and stuff."
With several powerful runners returning next year, Williams said he thought the 2001 team could be one of the strongest teams he's coached in awhile.
"Matt (Needham) is the only senior, so we should have a strong team," Williams said. "I'm looking forward to next year."