Trio powers cross country season
Four months ago, De Soto cross country coach Chris McAfee addressed the upcoming season for his girls team with a decided uncertainty.
"I'm a little nervous about it," he said in August. "What we'll accomplish, I don't know. If they set their goals high, they can achieve those, but this is also going to be a team that might fall apart."
Nine races, second-place finishes at both league and regionals and a fifth-place showing at state and it's obvious which path the team chose to follow.
"I was very, very pleased," McAfee said Monday. "Things came together a lot more than I thought they might."
Uncertainty reigned when the Cats first took to the courses in August, but a solid season by top-runner Morgan Frehe, powerful leadership by Lauren Karnitz and breakout seasons from a handful of sophomores and freshman had the Cats purring at October's end.
Frehe medaled in every race of the season, won a race at the illustrious Rim Rock Farm and capped the campaign with an eighth-place finish at the state meet. Second at league and third at regionals, the small-statured junior established herself as one of the state's premier runners.
"Morgan took a big step forward this year," McAfee said.
But McAfee cited other runners as the reason for the surprising season.
Karnitz, so frustrated she considered quitting last season, rebounded to join Frehe as one of the team's leaders, consistently running in second on the team. Sophomore Chesney Burgweger also enjoyed a breakout season.
"This year Chesney was just starting to figure it out," McAfee said. "She's doing better than I anticipated, especially better than I thought she'd do since after the beginning of the season."
The entire team may have gained similar confidence in what it can achieve. Frehe was the only Cat to medal at state, but Karnitz was just seconds off, finishing two places and one second behind a medal.
Burgweger was 39th in the final race, setting all three up for a chance to earn medals in 2006.
De Soto will graduate two of its top seven runners, Carrie Wilbert and Andrea Young, and though McAfee said it would be hard to replace their experience, he was thrilled with the development he saw in the team's freshmen.
Ali Wilcox finished a strong season with a 64th-place finish at the state meet and Andrea Bosnak wasn't far behind in 86th.
"We've got some great kids coming back there," McAfee said. "Morgan, Lauren and Chesney coming back, I think those three have a great chance to be successful. With our freshmen and maybe some strong eighth-graders coming up, we'll be good."