Runners prepare for season
Jason Wayne might be one of the best runners in the Kaw Valley League, but not even he can lead the DeSoto Wildcats to a league title.
Not single-handedly, at least.
"We have no team, except for Jason," said coach Chris Macafee.
That's not entirely true. Chad Johnson is a consistent runner who will finish among the league's top runners. But after Johnson, there is a sudden dropoff.
And while running is as individual a sport as there is, cross country has a team concept to it because it takes five good runners for a team to compete for a league title.
So, Wayne starts the season in an interesting situation. He will be wearing green and silver, but he will truly be running for himself.
That's quite similar to the situation across town across the city border where Griffin Lee and Angie Matlack start the season as Mill Valley's top runners. Each will compete for the league title, but neither has the support to begin thinking of winning a team title.
"We've got excellent No. 1 runners on both our girls and boys teams," said Mill Valley coach Mark Chipman, who moves to a new program this year after spending the last 18 years at DeSoto High. "This year, we'll be looking to build some depth.
If the Jaguars can develop a couple of good young runners, there is always next year. Keep in mind that Lee is just a junior.
DeSoto's girls team has the potential to finish in the top half of the Kaw Valley League teams, Macafee said. Led by a group of tenacious young runners, the Wildcats could post a surprise or two this year.
Freshman Laurie Wilson is coming off a strong summer of training, while sophomore Katie Davis, who is playing volleyball as well, will only get better with every meet.
"I think she is the most competitive runner I have ever coached," Macafee said.
Both Mill Valley and DeSoto will open the season next Friday at St. Thomas Aquinas.