Weller finished 36, Brock 43rd as Chieftains finish year at state
Sending two full teams to the state meet in the same year for the first time since 1991, the Tonganoxie High boys and girls cross country teams were eager to have a good showing Saturday at the state meet in Wamego.
But Baldwin, another program sporting two teams at state, once again dominated the field.
The Bulldogs, for the second time in three years, won both the boys and girls team titles. In addition, the boys won their eighth consecutive Class 4A state title.
Tonganoxie ran well, THS coach Phil Williams said, despite injuries to two of the team's top girls runners, Jen Wagner and Megan Holton. Wagner was sick the day before the meet, while Holton was nursing a hip flexor.
In her senior year, Holton wanted to compete despite the injury.
"Being a senior, I thought that was legitimate for her," Williams said.
Holton finished 96th with a time of 14 minutes, 56 seconds, while Wagner was 85th with a 14:19 time.
1. Baldwin, 51; 2. Abilene, 63; 3. El Dorado, 82; 4. Independence, 121; 5. Wamego, 125; 6. De Soto, 166; 7. Buhler, 180; 8. Andover, 197; 9. Tonganoxie, 256; 10. Hugoton, 260; 11. Bonner Springs, 268; 12. Pratt, 287.
1. Baldwin, 70; 2. Wamego, 100; 3. El Dorado, 104; 4. Eudora, 106; 5. De Soto, 139; 6. Buhler, 140; 7. Colby, 142; 8. Clearwater, 207; 9. Belle Plaine, 209; 10. Augusta, 217; 11. Iola, 246; 12. Tonganoxie, 303.
Wagner was Tonganoxie's No. 2 runner.
For the girls team, sophomore Christy Weller was Tonganoxie's top placer. Weller finished in 36th with a 13:14 time. Weller made her second state appearance, but finished the race for the first time Saturday. Last year, Weller injured her knee days before the race, and although she started the race, could not finish because of the injury.
Kayla Leffert finished just behind Wagner in 87th with a 14:21 time. Kaitlin Saathoff placed 90th (14:41), Kelley Stauch 93rd (14:48), Megan Holton 96th (14:56) and Katie Chenoweth 97th (15:03).
In the girls race, Baldwin scored 79 for first, while Wamego placed second with 100, and the THS girls finished 12th with 303.
"I think they ran well," Williams said. "Our girls had hoped for a little higher finish than that."
The boys scored 51 points, just ahead of Abilene, which scored 63. That was good for ninth place, a pleasant surprise for Williams.
"Our boys actually exceeded my expectations," Williams said. "I thought it would be really hard for them to make it in the top 10 and they got ninth."
Freshman Matt Brock placed 43rd with a time of 17 minutes, 51 seconds. Colin Perkins also finished in the top 50. Perkins placed 47th with a 17:58 time.
Also placing for the Chieftains were David Powell in 76th (18:56), Colt Coffin 88th (19:46), Chris Downs 90th (19:49), John Davis 93rd (19:57) and Garrett Kelly 98th (20:15).
The future looks bright for Tonganoxie -- both for the boys and girls again next year.
The boys lose just two seniors: Colt Coffin and Garrett Kelly. The girls also lose two seniors in Megan Holton and Kelley Stauch.
Now with state experience under their belts, this year's runners should be ready to go in 2006.
"It's really hard to run well your first time at state," Williams said.
The longtime THS coach hopes history repeats itself. In the late 90s, the boys team made regular trips as a team to state. Each year, the squad continued to improve its placing on the previous year until 2001 and 2002 when the team finished second and third in the state respectively.