Cross country teams hitting stride near season’s close
With the regular season now complete, Tonganoxie High’s cross country teams might be hitting their strides at the optimum time.
After the THS boys took second place and the girls were fourth at the Pleasant Ridge Invitational on Thursday, Chieftains coach Phil Williams couldn’t have been much more pleased.
“This was probably one of our best races of the season if you consider both boys and girls,” he said.
For the boys, junior Patrick Rachford continued his impressive season with a third-place finish (17:33) and junior Caleb Himpel ran well again, too, finishing 11th.
Williams was complimentary of Keith Slater, who finished 19th, and said a freshman has stepped up for the team.
“Our boys ran well again, and Clayton Himpel is improving to the point where he is helping us consistently as our fifth runner,” Williams said after Clayton, Caleb’s younger brother, finished 24th.
The coach also was encouraged by the girls, who improved from their previous meet. Williams said senior Alex Hauk, who finished 13th, looked better than she had in several weeks and Emily Soetaert, who had been out with an injury, returned and finished 16th.
“Emily Soetaert did not run where she was earlier in the year, but finishing the race where she did helped us a lot,” Williams said of the freshman, who had been the team’s top runner the first few weeks.
Tonganoxie probably received the biggest boost, though, from freshman Emma Stilgenbauer, who placed 15th. Williams said her steady improvement has been important.
“She has run better every single week,” her coach said, “and that is what you would like all of them to do.”
With Stilgenbauer and Soetaert finishing in 17:41 and 17:45 respectively, Williams said their times at Pleasant Ridge rank in the top 10 times for THS girls since they started running 4K races in 2006. Hauk, the coach added, already owned a top-10 time.
Next up for the runners will be the Kaw Valley League Meet, which begins at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at Wyandotte County Park.
Williams said Tonganoxie has high goals for the race.
“In the boys division, Mill Valley seems to be the clear favorite, but we can be in the fight for second along with Lansing, Bonner and Basehor,” Williams said.
“For the girls,” he continued, “there are several outstanding teams, including Mill Valley, Lansing and Basehor, but we can be in that mix if we run well.”
McLouth at PRHS
McLouth High also ran Thursday at Pleasant Ridge. The Bulldogs’ top performers were Derek Wright (15th, boys) and Emily Welsh (29th, girls).
Neither the MHS boys nor girls had enough runners to compete for a team title.
Pleasant Ridge Invitational
Thursday at Easton
Team placing: 1. Basehor-Linwood; 2. Christ Prep; 3. Jefferson County North; 4. Tonganoxie.
THS results: 13. Alex Hauk, 17:39; 15. Emma Stilgenbauer, 17:41; 16. Emily Soetaert, 17:45; 22. Taylar Morgan, 18:20; 26. Parker Osborne, 18:38; 28. Grae Wilbanks, 18:47; 30. Amanda Shepley, 18:59.
MHS results: 29. Emily Welsh, 18:52; 36. Caroline Overbaugh, 20:40.
Team standings: 1. Christ Prep, 24; 2. Tonganoxie, 64; 3. Basehor-Linwood, 75; 4. Jefferson County North, 98.
THS results: 3. Patrick Rachford, 17:33; 11. Caleb Himpel, 18:05; 14. Dalton Harrington, 18:17; 19. Keith Slater, 18:35; 24. Clayton Himpel, 19:05; 27. Brady Field, 19:19; 30. Jeff Neal, 19:50.
MHS results: 15. Derek Wright, 18:23; 36. Justin Johnston, 21:09; 37. Marcus Blaker, 21:13; 48. Jonathan Powell, 25:03; 49. Jonathan Wright, 25:26.