Tonganoxie harriers focused on return to top of Kaw Valley
Tonganoxie cross country teams never seem to stray too far from first place each year.
Their coach isn't going anywhere, either. THS coach Phil Williams, who recently retired from teaching in the school district, hasn't given up cross country. He enters his 30th year as Tonganoxie's coach
"I'm excited about the season," Williams said. "On paper, at least, our boys should be pretty good this year."
Tonganoxie will have six of its top seven back from a year ago, including the team's top five. Andy Kolman finished ninth at regionals, while Matt Chenoweth was 14th. Corey Brest came in 20th, John Davis 22nd and Colt Coffin 23rd. The lone senior from last year, Ben Brest, took 24th at regionals, while Brett Garrett finished 39th last fall.
After a year with the THS soccer team, Huseman returned to the cross country course. The senior helped the Chieftains to a second-place state finish as a freshman and a third-place finish as a sophomore.
Last year, Tonganoxie placed second at the Kaw Valley League meet and third at Regionals on the boys' side, so the Chieftains should challenge again this fall.
"I would think from what I could tell from last year, Mill Valley and us should be two of the better teams," Williams said.
Last year, Tonganoxie had to deal with De Soto, but the Wildcats bolted for the Frontier League after the last school year.
Joining the league this fall is Bishop-Ward.
Girls cross country
The Chieftain girls don't possess quite the arsenal the boys team returns, but the team should fare well in replacing outgoing seniors Elizabeth Smith and Amanda Chenoweth. Smith now is running at Pratt Community College.
"We've got a good nucleus of three or four girls and a few that came out that should help us a lot, so we should be improved," Williams said. "It remains to be seen how much."
The Chieftains don't return a single senior, but juniors Megan Holton, Kelley Stauch and Rachel Bouza should be lead this year's squad.
Sophomores Kezia Huseman and Jennifer Wagner and freshman Christy Weller are expected to contribute as well.
Williams expects Mill Valley, Lansing and his own Chieftains to round out the Kaw Valley League's top three.
"I would hope we're close to those two," Williams said.
Both boys and girls teams open the season Thursday with the Tonganoxie Quadrangular.