The climb continues
THS teams improve from last year: Boys place 5th; girls 8th
Christy Weller hopes the trend continues.
Last year, Weller finished 39th in Class 4A at the state cross country championships in Wamego.
On Saturday, the junior ran to a 25th-place finish.
"Hopefully next year I'll go get 11th; go up 14 more places," Weller said with a grin.
Heading into Saturday's meet, Weller hoped to medal at state, which would require finishing in the top 20.
She didn't meet that goal, but was just five spots from it.
"I'm really happy with the results," Weller said.
The Chieftains' top runner also was encouraged by her team's overall performance. The squad placed eighth out of 12 teams with 211 points, just ahead of Buhler, which scored 212, and Eudora, which finished with 213.
De Soto won the meet with 67, while Baldwin, which had won three of the last four state team titles heading into Saturday's competition, placed second with 83. Clearwater placed third with 113, and Clay Center (137) and Augusta (139) rounded out the top five.
Freshman Andie Jeannin, competing in her first state meet, finished 41st with a 16:05 time.
Jeannin admitted she had her share of anxiety, which actually started Friday for the rookie.
The day before the race, Jeannin's stomach was tied in knots thanks to a bad case of nerves.
"Today wasn't as bad, but I was still nervous," Jeannnin said after Saturday's race.
The cross country course in Wamego meanders across that city's golf course, a site with plenty of hills.
"It had some hills and hills are my stronger points, so that helped a lot rather than a flat course," Jeannin said.
THS coach Phil Williams was pleased with the freshman's effort.
"She ran really well," Williams said. "It's hard to run well your first time at state. It's intimidating."
Sophomore Addy Phelps finished 55th with a 16:28 time.
Senior Jennifer Wagner finished her final race in a THS uniform, but she didn't go out as she had hoped. Wagner felt nauseated during the race. She hadn't felt ill previously, and had run before at state, so she wasn't nervous.
The only thing she said that might have made her nauseated was taking a few sips of a sports drink beforehand.
"I guess that's what did it," Wagner said.
The senior finished the race in 17:43, good for 89th.
Last season, Wagner struggled at state because of back problems, and looked to have a better showing in her final season.
"I was hoping to come back and redeem myself, but that didn't happen," she said.
Also lost to graduation next year will be Kezia Huseman and Emily Hughes.
Other Chieftain runners competing at state were sophomore Kayla Leffert (87th, 17:36), Kaitlyn Saathoff (91st, 17:48) and junior Katie Chenoweth (99th, 18:38).
Tonganoxie will return next year with much of its team intact. Weller said she's eager to compete next season with many of the same runners back for another year.
"Next year, if we have everyone come out and a couple eighth-graders who are supposed to come out, we should be stronger as a team," Weller said.
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Tonganoxie finished fifth as a team Saturday, the program's highest finish since the 2002 squad placed third at state.
Williams credited one runner as a crucial part of that return to state prominence.
"Tim Beeman," Williams said. "That probably was the best race he's run all season. He probably had more to do with us getting fifth place than anybody else."
Beeman wasn't Tonganoxie's top runner, but his top performance helped the Chieftains take fifth by 14 points. Beeman finished 70th with a 19:19 time. THS scored 164, while Mulvane scored 178 for sixth.
El Dorado won the meet with 63, while Baldwin scored 70 for second. El Dorado snapped Baldwin's consecutive title run. The Bulldogs had won eight straight 4A team titles, dating back to 1998.
As for Tonganoxie's finish, Williams discussed what his reaction would have been if he would have known the outcome of the team scores before the race.
"That sounds great to me," Williams said. "Let's take that and go home. I was thrilled with fifth.
"We beat Clay Center, which beat us by 25 last week (at regionals)."
Saturday, as opposed to the last few races, Matt Brock was Tonganoxie's top runner. The sophomore finished in 27th with an 18:08 time. Last year, he finished 42nd.
Senior Chris Price had been the Chieftains' top runner during the last few races. But Brock relinquished the role at State.
"My actual goal was to beat Chris because he beat me the last couple races, so that was my main goal," Brock said.
The sophomore has been working to overcome a nagging calf injury. On Saturday, he said his leg didn't bother him. Although he hasn't been running in top form recently, he said he's made strides.
"I think the biggest factor was I built my confidence back up," Brock said.
Williams said Brock probably was running nearly at full-strength, probably at "97 percent or so" for his final race of the season.
"That last quarter-mile he passed a lot of people," Williams said.
Price, meanwhile, ended his high school career by taking 34th with an 18:20 time. Last year, in 3A, Price placed 29th for Cheney with a 17:57 time. Price transferred from the 3A school this fall.
Colin Perkins placed 45th with an 18:32 time, while David Powell finished 65th (19:12). Other Chieftains competing were Justin Smith (92nd, 20:06) and Patrick Holton (97th, 20:44).
This year's senior class, along with Price and Smith, consisted of Chris Downs, Michael Shaw and John Davis.
Although the team loses several seniors, the team will return plenty of varsity runners next season.
"We'll be better," Brock said about next year. "We're getting better every year."
- Dynasty, Season XIII. Shawnee Mission Northwest placed first as a team in the boys 6A race. The Cougars have won the last 13 boys championships.
- Saints march through boys and girls races. St. Thomas Aquinas swept the 5A team titles, marking the first time the teams accomplished the feat in the same year. The girls team won its first state title in 2004 in 6A. The boys also won 5A titles in 1994 and 1996.
- Repeats in 3A. The Kansas City Christian boys and Riley County girls won state titles for the second straight year. KC Christian, a frequent opponent of THS during the regular season, also has won four of the last five team titles.
4A state team scores
1. De Soto, 67; 2. Baldwin, 83; 3. Wamego, 113; 4. Clearwater, 125; 5. Clay Center, 137; 6. Andale, 139; 7. El Dorado, 198; 8. Tonganoxie, 211; 9. Buhler, 212; 10. Eudora, 213; 11. Augusta, 258; 12. Towanda-Circle, 261.
1. El Dorado, 63; 2. Baldwin, 70; 3. De Soto, 94; 4. Wamego, 101; 5. Tonganoxie, 164; 6. Mulvane, 178; 7. Buhler, 182; 8. Paola, 190; 9. Colby, 192; 10. Clay Center, 203; 11. Labette County, 215; Clearwater, 282.
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