McLouth cross country seeks girls’ state return
McLouth had a respectable eighth-place team finish on the girls' side at last year's 2-1A state cross country meet in Wamego.
That won't be good enough this year.
"That was not as good as we wanted to be," said coach George Karn, who begins his seventh season at the Bulldogs' helm. Cory Cole, a former All-American runner at Emporia State, completes the McLouth coaching staff.
Karn and Cole will have most of their runners back this season.
Senior Courtney Edmonds returns after placing fifth last season. If she and other top finishers return to state, the field will be loaded. None of the top five medallists graduated, and the top two are from Osborne seniors Jolene Mick and Ashley Noel. Osborne had to settle for second despite having the top two finishes. This year, though, OHS is the preseason favorite to win state. McLouth, meanwhile, was picked to finish sixth.
Besides Edmonds, junior Katie Booth also returns for MHS. Booth placed 52nd at state last year. Sophomore Neva Gardner and senior Tina Edgell are also back for another season. The two placed 64th and 67th last fall in Wamego. Junior Alayna Stewart (76) and Erin Watson (80) also return with state experience. Crystal Edgell, who placed 77th last season, was the only state placer lost to graduation.
Edmonds, who led the Bulldogs to a Delaware Valley League title last season, had been working throughout the summer with the Kansas Flyers track club before starting cross country workouts. In May at the Kansas State Track and Field Championships in Wichita, Edmonds won her second straight 2A 800-meter crown. She also took third in the 1,600.
Although she had to adjust from speed to distance, she said cross country practice has been going well.
"The girls just came out and trained all summer," Edmonds said. "Everybody's pumped up about it."
McLouth's eighth-place finish last October was the Bulldogs highest ever, Karn said, but expectations are steep for a cross country program that's had a solid existence for just the last 12 years.
Now in position to defend a league title, Karn said the team would have to maintain its success.
"The girls have a real good chance," Karn said. "When you're No. 1, they're all out to knock you off."
Boys cross country
McLouth doesn't have quite the same guns on its boys' team.
The Bulldogs lost their top runner to graduation in Mark Smelser. Last year, Smelser took 16th at the state meet. McLouth, however, returns the No. 17 runner at Wamego in junior Matt Scarlett.
McLouth finished second in the Delaware Valley League last season, falling short to eventual state champion Kansas City Christian.
Karn said he'd been extremely happy if the boys cracked the top three in the DVL.
"They're going to have to work their tails off to beat KC Christian," Karn said.
Senior Clayton Garrow said Smelser was a major leader last season, but he has done his part to lead the team this season.
"I think there's a certain responsibility as a senior to keep everybody in line and keep pushing," Garrow said.
McLouth opens its season at 4 p.m. Thursday in the Jefferson West Invitational.
McLouth's lone home invitational is Sept. 19 at the Bulldog Sports Complex near the McLouth High School football field.