THS girls cross country adjusts without runner
The Tonganoxie High girls cross country team lost its top runner Thursday during the Maranatha Academy Invitational, in Shawnee, but still finished third in the team standings.
Chieftains coach Phil Williams said sophomore Hunter Cook started the race intending to finish it, but only made it through about two-thirds of the course before some nagging injuries forced her out.
“We knew she was sore, but she wanted to try and go see what she could do,” Williams said of Cook, who first started feeling very sore in the area around her quad Sept. 20. “She just couldn’t make it through.”
THS had run without Cook at its previous meet, the Rim Rock Classic, before she tried to come back too early. Williams said the other runners are looking to step up in Cook’s absence.
“They’re doing well,” the coach said. “Obviously, it would’ve helped to have her there.”
Tonganoxie finished third with Emma Stilgenbauer (12th), Tressa Walker (13th) and Amanda Shepley (17th) setting the pace. Stilgenbauer said it has been tougher for the Chieftains to score low without Cook the past two meets.
“The next person has to step up on the JV, so it’s harder,” she said.
In Tonganoxie’s two most recent outings, Stilgenbauer and Walker have been the team’s top performers. Williams said all of the runners have done well in Cook’s absence and he wasn’t the least bit surprised to see Stilgenbauer and Walker become the lead runners.
“Emma and Tressa have been second or third — sometimes Tressa and sometimes Emma — throughout the season, so that’s kind of to be expected,” Williams said. “They haven’t faded back or anything.”
Stilgenbauer said she and Walker are developing into more consistent runners by feeding off one another.
“We’re pushing each other,” she said, noting that has worked well for them.
Working against THS Thursday, Stilgenbauer said, was the team’s big week prior to the Maranatha Academy meet. She said running in two events the week before and logging heavy miles at practice in the days leading up to the meet left the runners a little tired.
“I don’t think we thought we did that well,” Stilgenbauer said of the squad’s performance at Maranatha.
Williams said increased mileage was all part of the plan. The coach said the runners logged a lot of miles at practices a few days before the Maranatha race to prepare them for the most important part of the schedule.
“I expected them to feel a little bit tired and sore this week,” he said. “We’re trying to peak for later in the season.”
The THS coach wants the runners to be in the best shape possible for the last few meets of the year, which are rapidly approaching. In order to achieve that, Williams said, he is pushing them harder right now.
“You can’t expect to be at your best some of these weeks where we run all of these miles, but yeah, I’m seeing some progress in them and it’ll show, I hope, more in a week or two — at the end of the season for league and regionals and all of that,” he said.
Stilgenbauer said the runners are making progress as the season winds down.
“I think our times are getting better with each race,” she said.
At 5 p.m. Thursday, THS will compete at Pleasant Ridge, in Easton.
Maranatha Academy Invitational
Thursday at Shawnee
Team scores: 1. Christ Preparatory Academy, 37; 2. Maranatha Academy, 44; 3. Tonganoxie, 83; 4. Kansas City Christian, 93; 5. Bishop Seabury, 94.
THS results: 12. Emma Stilgenbauer, 17:49.29; 13. Tressa Walker, 17:51.02; 17. Amanda Shepley, 18:12.01; 20. Emily Williams, 18:23.29; 21. Halston Field, 18:24.31; 22. Alissa Donnelly, 18:28.24.