THS conquers league title
Before the Kaw Valley League team scores were announced Thursday on the University of St. Mary campus in Leavenworth, there was little doubt as to who won this year's boys meet.
All of Tonganoxie's seven cross country runners medalled. From first to 14th, the Chieftains accounted for half of the top runners.
And with 24 points, the Chieftains outlasted Mill Valley, which scored 53 for second. Bonner Springs scored 70 for third place.
Coming into the race, THS coach Phil Williams knew the Chieftains would be the favorite to win the meet.
When the race was finished, Williams thought his team ran its best race of the year.
"We wanted to attack the course and attack the race and we did that," Williams said.
The St. Mary course is one of the hillier courses the Chieftains face. A final climb before the finish line summarizes the taxing race. Williams, however, said his team traditionally turns in fast times on the college campus.
Andy Kolman again led the way for Tonganoxie. His 17:50 time made him the Kaw Valley League champion. Matt Chenoweth was close behind in fourth place (18:37), while Levi Huseman (18:44) finished fifth. Colin Perkins placed sixth (18:49) and Justin Smith eighth (19:05). Brett Garrett followed in ninth (19:07) and John Davis finished 14th (19:40).
The boys race had eight teams competing and 51 runners.
Tonganoxie now embarks on its last step before state.
The Chieftains will compete in a Class 4A regional at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on its home course.
Although the Chieftains had a commanding victory at the league meet, Tonganoxie now must face the likes of De Soto, Anderson County, Baldwin and Osawatomie.
"At this stage, it's more mental than anything," Williams said.
Baldwin was the preseason favorite in Class 4A, according to the Kansas Cross Country Track and Field Coaches Association. Tonganoxie, De Soto and Anderson County also received votes in the top 15.
De Soto blazed past Tonganoxie on Sept. 18 at Rim Rock, but the Chieftains returned the favor at their home invitational Sept. 23. The Wildcats and Chieftains would have faced off in the KVL meet last week, but De Soto joined the Frontier League this year.
Oh, and don't forget, Baldwin will be eyeing another regional team title as the Bulldogs look to win their seventh straight state title.
Girls Cross Country
Mill Valley was similar to Tonganoxie in dominating the league meet. The Jaguar girls scored 23 points for first place. Lansing was second with 68.
Tonganoxie, meanwhile, placed third, just ahead of a congested field.
The Chieftains scored 100, Perry-Lecompton 103 and Basehor-Linwood 105. Piper placed sixth out of six teams with a 140 score.
Christy Weller continued her stellar rookie season. The freshman finished in 13:07 and placed second. Jennifer Wagner also medalled with an eighth-place finish. Megan Holton placed 21st (14:53), Kaitlynn Saathoff 27th (15:24), Kelley Stauch 31st (15:36) and Rachel Bouza 34th (15:42). Kezia Huseman finished 36th with a 15:45 time. Bouza has been battling injury much of the year, but did manage the 34th spot out of 47 runners.
"The boys and girls really ran strong," Williams said.
The Chieftains now enter the postseason as regionals begin at 2 p.m. Saturday in Tonganoxie for the girls race.
Baldwin will be the biggest name at Tonganoxie's regional. The Bulldogs have won the last two 4A state titles.
Cross country notes
- Tonganoxie's varisty boys win might have been impressive, but the junior varsity's score was even better. The Chieftains scored 15 points -- the lowest possible score for a winning team.
- THS swept the top 5 spots in the meet. Colt Coffin won with a 20:19 time, while Michael Shaw was close behind at 20:36. Pat Holton placed third (21:07), Kazi Fukuyasu fourth (21:30) and Tyson Letourneau fifth (21:31). Jake Herrstrom and Adam Hamby placed 13th (23:39) and 22nd (26:01) respectively.