Johnson first, Frehe second at KVL cross country meet
Andrea Young's finish Friday at Kaw Valley cross country meet wasn't what she was accustomed to, but it impressed her teammates and coach.
Had Young stayed sidelined from an injury suffered earlier in the season, the Wildcats girls wouldn't have had the opportunity to defend their league championship.
"If she hadn't run, we would not have had a full team," Wildcat coach Chris McAfee said. "I am proud of her for competing. She will get better day by day."
The sophomore was the fourth Wildcat to cross the finish line in a 12th-best time of 13 minutes, 49 seconds, but more importantly she was one of five De Soto runners to medal at the meet. Although every Wildcat runner competing earned a medal, the team still came up short to a talented Lansing squad in the team standings.
"We just didn't have enough to beat them," McAfee said. "I never thought that a team could have five people medal in a league meet and not win. But Lansing had six girls medal."
The extra medal was enough to give Lansing a 45-27 advantage over the runner-up Wildcats.
Freshman Morgan Frehe paced the Wildcat attack with a personal best and second-place time of 12:56. She stayed with Lansing's Bianca Manago, the eventual medalist, for the first mile before allowing her to get away. Frehe then attacked the course in the last half-mile to narrow the gap and maintain her second-place pace.
Carrie Wilbert (13:24) and Melissa Roberts (13:32) also finished in the top 10.
Wilbert stayed with the leaders for the first mile before fading to her finishing spot of seventh place, while Roberts ran strong in the latter part of her race to place ninth.
Despite weather conditions that compounded her asthma, Katie James ran to the tune of a 15th place time of 14:03.
"She competed her tail off," McAfee said. "Katie really wanted to medal this year, and she did it."
Casey Johnson continued his hot streak with his third win in a row and his fourth of the season by getting out quickly and pushing the pace. Mill Valley's Jay Matlack stayed within four strides before making his move with about a half-mile left, but Johnson's kick was too strong, and the Wildcat won by four seconds.
The win helped De Soto, which scored 57 team points, to a third-place finish behind Mill Valley (43) and Tonganoxie (54). It was the first time this season that the Wildcats lost to the Chieftains.
Donnie Gardner (17:53) and Chris Peterson (18:15) both finished in the top 10 as well. Gardner tried to recover from a sluggish start by rallying in the third mile, but he was back too far to improve on his place and finished eighth. Peterson, meanwhile, jumped out to a quick start and turned it into a 10th-place finish.
Tanner McNamara was the final Wildcat to earn a medal when he crossed the finish line in a time of 18:17.
"He lost contact in the middle part of the race," McAfee said, "but then came back later on. Being a league medalist as a freshman is a pretty impressive thing."
Alex Wayne (27th) and Matt Woywod (30th) also ran for the De Soto varsity.
Both the girls and boys teams have an excellent shot to qualify for the 4A state meet at the regional Saturday at Tonganoxie.
The top three teams at the meet will continue their seasons at the state meet Nov. 1 at Wamego.
On the girls side, De Soto will compete with Baldwin, Lansing and Eudora for the team berths. De Soto's boys will try to edge out Baldwin and Tonganoxie for the top spot.
McAfee said he thought Lansing was a sleeper to qualify for the state meet on the boys side.