Cats walk away with 11th place at Wamego meet
De Soto's Casey Johnson finished seventh in a field that featured five top-10 teams, despite getting off to a slow start Saturday at the Wamego Invitational cross country meet.
Thanks to Johnson's efforts, De Soto earned an 11th place finish at the meet.
"He got out too slow," De Soto cross country coach Chris McAfee said of his No. 1 boys runner, "and then he had to really work to get to where he wanted to be, and then let some people get away from him."
Johnson was just a few seconds behind the second-place runner at the two-mile point.
According to McAfee, Johnson is capable of running with the top two or three runners at a given meet. But lack of big meet experience has held him back.
"Once he gets used to it, he will compete better," McAfee said.
Donnie Gardner, who also medaled in the event, moved up several places in the third mile of the three-mile race.
McAfee said Gardner would eventually have to be able to withstand a quicker pace at the beginning and in the middle of the race.
Chris Peterson ran third for the Wildcats and has a chance to help give De Soto four solid runners. He and Tanner McNamara worried their coach by getting out too slow, but to McAfee's delight the duo found a way to move up throughout the race.
"He is a pretty tough competitior, and he showed that today," McAfee said.
Adam Wilcox and Matt Woywod also ran the course for De Soto.
Carrie Wilbert, who medaled for the Wildcats, led the girls charges to an 11th-place finish, despite trying a new strategy.
"I think as she gets used to racing like this, she is going to run faster and place higher in big meets," McAfee said.
Melissa Roberts was held back some because of shin splints. But McAfee said he had the confidence she would eventually run better and place even higher
Freshman Morgan Frehe ran a good race for her first big meet, McAfee said.
He hopes Roberts and Frehe will eventually run with Wilbert and make the team that much stronger.
The Wildcats efforts were hampered because of an injury to their top runner. Sophomore Andrea Young turned her ankle earlier in the week and re-injured it at the meet. She struggled to get into the top 10 early in the race but dropped off to 85th place as she hobbled across the finish line.
At the time of the injury, Young was sitting in with a group of runners that took up the five through 10 slots.
"She is running great right now," McAfee said. "But we need to get her ankle healed."
Katie James and Sarah Jokisch also ran on the varsity at Wamego.
Despite the injury to Young, McAfee was pleased with his team's overall performance.
"It showed that we are still one of the top 10 teams in the state," McAfee said of his team's performance.
Places and times were not available at press time.
De Soto will run at the KU Rim Rock meet Saturday. The race is set to begin at 8 a.m.