Johnson takes third, boys seventh at state
De Soto cross country coach Chris McAfee admitted Monday that everything would have had to fall into place for his Wildcat boys cross country team to have a chance of besting the school's best finish at a Kansas state cross country meet.
Still, he was confident that his fifth-ranked boys team would finish no worse than fifth and that senior Casey Johnson would come home with the individual championship.
De Soto did tie for a second-best team effort of seventh with 179 points, and Johnson settled for third in the individual race in 16 minutes, 41.92 seconds.
But McAfee knew it would be a disappointing day when his team did not prepare mentally before the race.
"Their heads weren't in the race," McAfee said. "They weren't thinking about what they should be doing at what time. We've been there before. We should have been better prepared."
Even Johnson didn't appear to have his "A" game Saturday. The senior, who is the defending 4A 800-meter champion in track, seemed content with running for second place rather than going for it all, McAfee said.
Johnson knew his biggest competition would come from Clearwater's Jay Lindal. But he let the speedster get away early and never recovered, McAfee said.
"He said he got boxed in," the coach said. "But I think his mind was pretty much made up that he wasn't going to go out and win the thing."
Johnson did stay with El Dorado's Bobby Morton for much of the race, but Morton eventually pulled away, taking second by more than 12 seconds. Lindal won the event by almost nine seconds over Morton when he turned in a time of 16:20.25.
"He doesn't finish like he used to," McAfee said of Johnson. "He's trained himself to hold back and save himself for the end. He's got to get through that. He needs to run to find his limits. He's just got to let it all hang out."
Coming in second for the Wildcats was senior Donnie Gardner, who turned in a 34th- best time of 17:41.23. Unfortunately for Gardner, he lost to 11 runners he beat earlier in the year.
Tanner McNamara stepped his game up a notch and finished 38th in 17:47. Adam Wilcox and Jerin Riffel broke the tape at 82nd and 83rd in 18:44 and 18:46, respectively. Chris Dvorak ran a personal best of 18:58 for 88th place. Alex Wayne was 102nd in a time of 20:59.
Baldwin easily took the team championship by placing six runners in the top 20. Sam Hinton who placed fifth in a clocking of 16:43.43 led the Bulldogs. Zac Towns and Chris Elniff also placed in the top 10 with times of 16:46.33 and 16:50.31, respectively.
Second-place Clearwater countered with Lindal and David Calhoun, who finished fourth in 16:42.69. Anthony Schoenecker gave Clearwater three individual medals.