Girls cross country team qualifies for state meet
Even when it's not on its game, De Soto's cross country team still proved better than most of the teams in the state at the 4A regional meet in Tonganoxie Saturday.
The Wildcats, fresh off of an emotional Kaw Valley League title performance, were still able to claim a second place at the meet and get the second invitation to the state meet in school history.
The last time a Wildcat team qualified for the state meet was in 1993.
"One of our goals for the season is to always run our best," De Soto coach Chris McAfee said. "Almost every girl on our team was beaten by somebody they had been beating all season long."
McAfee wasn't sure if his team was a little overconfident going into the regional meet, but he said they would need to rebound if they wanted to perform well at state.
"I think we can finish anywhere from third to 12th," McAfee said. "It all depends on how prepared we are, and how much we want it."
Andrea Young was the only Wildcat to place in the top 10. Her fourth-place finish marked the sixth meet in a row that she finished in the top five.
"I think she was content to be in the top five and didn't really push herself to run as well as she can," McAfee said. "She is a freshman and still learning.
"She usually comes off of the course saying she could have done better. But this week she didn't seem concerned by not running as well as she could have."
Carrie Wilbert was the second Wildcat in with a 12th place time of 12:56.
Laurie Wilson (14th, 13:19), Sarah Jokisch (21st, 13:38), Melissa Roberts (23rd, 13:43), Katie James (31st, 14:09) and Carrie Buser (51st, 15:25) all ran the course as well for De Soto.
The Mill Valley girls also qualified by placing third in the competition with 88 points.
The Jaguars qualified for the state meet for the third year in a row.
Mill Valley was led by the 13th place effort of Amber Keith in a time of 12:58. Holly Gessley (15th, 13:24) and Hillarie Andrews (18th, 13:29) also finished in the top 20 for the Jaguars.
Rounding out the runners for Mill Valley were Laraine Kyle (24th, 13:52), Jessica Velazquez (25th, 13:56), Marie Steins (29th, 14:06) and Jackie Jenkins (32nd, 14:10).
"The girls came through by beating the Tonganoxie runners they each needed to beat," Jaguar coach Mark Chipman said. "Now they're just hoping for a top-10 finish."
Mill Valley's boys also qualified for state by finishing ahead of the Wildcats, and according to Chipman they have a shot of finishing as high as third.
"Baldwin is going to be pretty much out of reach," Chipman said. "They are just so tough. We will need to beat Tonganoxie, El Dorado and Clearwater if we are to finish in the top three."
Chipman was pleased with his team's performance, saying the athletes ran about as well as at the league meet just a week earlier.
"Tonganoxie is still just a little better than us," he said. "But I believe they are still catchable for us at state."
Jay Matlack led the pack of Jaguar runners and the rest of the field with a championship time of 15:59.
Braxton Bray (14th, 17:24), Brian Fritz (17th, 17:35) and Matt Palcher (18th, 17:38) all placed in the top 20 as well for the Jaguars.
Alex Treaster (21st, 17:51), Austin Zeh (41st, 19:16) and Mike Whim (52nd, 19:55) rounded out the throng of Mill Valley runners.
Casey Johnson (17:47) was the only boy to qualify for the Wildcats. His 19th place finish paced the Wildcats to a fourth place finish with 140 points.
It was the best team finish of the year and marked the first time this season it beat Eudora and Lansing.
"I'm really proud of them," McAfee said. "The fourth-place finish was one of the best we've ever had in a regional. If we had been in another regional we probably would have been able to qualify for state."
Josh Arnold (26th, 18:22), Ross Maddock (29th, 18:35), Jason Wayne (35th, 18:55), Alex Wayne (57th, 20:17), Adam Wilcox (59th, 20:22) and Lance (62nd, 20:31) also finished the course for the Wildcats.
The teams will compete at the state meet at the Wamego Country Club Saturday. The boys are set to hit the track at 9 a.m., and the girls start an hour later.