THS cross country coach eyes Top 5 finishes for boys and girls
The Tonganoxie High cross country team will look to build on a fifth-place state finish in 2006 by the boys and an eighth-place state finish by the girls.
"The boys, we'd like to get in the top 3," Tonganoxie coach Phil Williams said about his 2007 state hopes. "Our girls are really impressing me so far. I think, for sure, we can be in the top 5 and maybe higher."
The returning senior on the boys team with the most experience is Patrick Holton. The Chieftains' top runners this year will be juniors, namely Matt Brock, David Powell and Dalton Lawson. Sophomore Bret Koch is expected to make an immediate impact as well.
Brock has been Tonganoxie's top runner since he was a freshman.
"He's a real hard worker and has a lot of ability," Williams said of Brock. "The main thing is he's really intense and a tough competitor, and I think that sets a good example for the other kids."
On the girls side, Christy Weller has been the top Chieftain runner the past three years.
Andie Jeannin was the No. 2 runner for THS as a freshman last season, so she should make significant contributions as a sophomore this season.
Tonganoxie will have its first meet Thursday at the Tonganoxie Quadrangular at home. Other teams will include Lansing, Basehor-Linwood and Kansas City Christian. To prepare for the meet, Williams had a specific agenda.
The Chieftains started running long distances without a running clock weeks ago. They kept their own pace.
More recently, Williams focused more on timed drills, such as sprinting up hills. On Aug. 21, Williams focused on a separate drill, which placed an importance on passing other runners during competition. During the drill, runners ran in a line. The runner in the farthest back position would sprint to the front of the line. The cycle continued.
"That does several things," Williams explained. "It gets them to run as a group, which we try to do in a race. It also works on speed work, as they accelerate and go around people. A lot of people think they just have to hold their place during a race, then try to pass during the end, but you can pass during a race if you know how to do it."
Williams said he targeted six miles per day during practice, but he's recently cut it to five because of the heat. For reference, the boys will run 3.1 miles during their meets, while the girls will run 2.5 miles.