Girls hope bigger meet, more runners equal higher finish
HIAWATHA -- The De Soto girls team wasn't bad Saturday.
It took second place at the regional championship at the Hiawatha Country Club for the third time in the last four years and ensured a trip to Saturday's state meet in Wamego.
Still, coach Chris McAfee couldn't help but think he sabotaged chances of the girls' first regional title before the starting gun even sounded.
"I felt like we could run really, really bad and still make it to state," McAfee said. "I told the girls that. I thought it would make them more relaxed, but I think it made them not as focused as we needed to be. That's my fault."
De Soto still made it to state pretty handily. The Wildcats finished with 49 points, a disappointing 14 behind rival Eudora, but 69 better than third-place Tonganoxie.
Morgan Frehe led the Cats with a third-place finish, crossing the line in 12 minutes, 19 seconds. Lauren Karnitz was fifth at 12:46 and Chesney Burgweger was eighth in 13:15. But even stacking three runners into the top 10 wasn't enough.
Disappointing maybe, but the race wasn't all that surprising, McAfee said.
"I'm especially bummed because it was a big margin, but I felt like they were going to get us this week. It seems like our girls run a little better in a bigger race rather than a smaller race," he said.
It wasn't an ideal race, but it may have set the Cats up for a big day Saturday at the state meet.
The regionals race featured a fast start, almost uncomfortably fast for some of De Soto's runners, but similar to what the team can expect at Wamego.
The extra large field of runners might also work in De Soto's favor. The smaller regionals race reduced the impact of De Soto's depth, its biggest strength.
With more high-quality runners competing and packing in front of the third, fourth and fifth finishers from other teams, McAfee said the Cats fortunes might benefit.
Baldwin City, El Dorado, Buhler and Eudora will make for the best competition as the Cats' hope to place in the top three.
"It plays into our hands," he said. "We still have our depth, and ours is probably better than most of the teams' that will be there. If all seven girls step up with a top race at the same time, we could challenge for the top three."