Wamego again a golden for Wildcat cross country
Sure Saturday was great, De Soto senior Lucas Slater said.
The Wildcats didn't win the state championship on this trip to Wamego, however, and that's something Slater said De Soto will be keeping in mind.
Carly Stanley and Shelbi Petty led the girls cross country squad to a team title, and Lucas Slater helped the boys to a runner's up finish Saturday at the Wamego Invitational.
It was a performance to be proud of, Slater said, but he insisted this is not the time to enjoy it.
"We know we beat Baldwin in our first race last year, and that didn't mean anything at the end of the season. We know we need to keep pushing and keep working in each workout," Slater said. "Otherwise, we're going to get passed by the people who didn't work out over the summer -- that's basically all it is right now, that we worked over the summer.
"If we don't keep working hard, they'll pass us by."
Slater was the top Cat on a roster full of good performances, De Soto coach Chris McAfee said. The senior was a factor in the team's stellar 2006 season -- he was 14th as the team finished second at regionals and 26th when De Soto finished third at state.
He was solid again in the first week of the season, finishing behind teammate Colin Jokisch, but third in the five-kilometer race at Anderson County. He's never shined like he did Saturday, however. De Soto finished second, 37 points behind Mulvane, but four ahead of host Wamego, 29 ahead of Frontier League-rival Baldwin and 39 ahead of defending Class 4A state champion El Dorado.
Breaking from the starting line with a formerly atypical fast start -- Slater said it'll become a regular part of his race now -- he hung with the 128-runner field's top threats through the first part of the rolling trail, spread across the hills of the Wamego Country Club golf course.
Though he slipped some down the stretch, he finished ninth in 17 minutes, 45 seconds, more than 20 seconds faster than his time on the same course at the state meet a year ago. It was the best time of his season and the third fastest time of his career.
"It was just a really, really good race," Slater said. "Everything was good about it. My mind was in the right place ... the whole race, I felt so good.
"I was holding back because I thought the hurt was going to come, but it never did."
Perhaps turning in an even more shocking performance was the Cats' second-place finisher, Trey Lind.
A senior who vaulted his way onto the varsity team in the offseason, Lind was 12th Saturday, and recorded a personal best time of 17:54, more than 45 seconds faster than his previous best.
Colin Jokisch was on Lind's heels in 14th, and Jerin Riffel was 24th in 18:29. The team's final three runners each set personal bests and earned medals, Austin Hinchey finishing 28th, Ry Patton 32nd and Brian Murdock 38th.
"With the guys, going in without Cristian (Dozier), I thought we were pretty locked into fifth place," McAfee said. "For those guys to come out and finish in second place is beyond anything I expected.
"That will do a lot for our confidence, for sure."
The girls of course had plenty to keep them smiling on the ride home, as well.
Stanley, a sophomore, was 8th, finishing the four-kilometer course in 16:02. Close behind her was Petty, a freshman.
Petty leapt through the De Soto ranks in just her second varsity race, finishing second on the team, four spots better than the week prior. She roasted her previous best time by nearly 90 seconds, finishing at 16:15.
"Shelbi ran really well," McAfee said. "She could be one of the top 10 girls in the state and it was great for her to have a race experience like that to really build her confidence."
Senior Chesney Burgweger wasn't far behind, but none of the Cats were. Burgweger was 19th, freshman Lacey Erickson was 21st, Maddy Frehe was 25th and Ellie Sheridan finished 29th.
Outside of a 47th place finish by injured senior Trish Roberts, every De Soto runner crossed the line within a 62 second span. It made the final tallying rather easy -- the Cats won their second meet this season, and also beat rival Baldwin for the second time, finishing with 82 points to Baldwin's 95.
Wamego was third with 118 and Clay Center was a distant fourth at 136.
"We were very happy with the results," McAfee said. "The kids ran very well. On the girls side, we know pretty much where we're at. We now know we can win another state championship. We know Baldwin has a great team and has a lot of room for improvement.
"We know we have to improve a lot, too, if we think we're going to win."