Runners ready for metro’s best
The De Soto cross country team will log trips near and far this season, along the way encountering some of the most challenging competition in the region.
They won't encounter anything else like Saturday's race, however, now matter where they look.
The Wildcats will run Saturday morning in the Kansas City Metro Championships. The massive race set in Raymore, Mo. features 46 teams from both sides of the border, could feature at least 322 runners for each the boys and the girls races.
"I'm excited to see where we match up," De Soto coach Chris McAfee said. "I think pretty highly of our team and I think our kids have worked darn hard, so it will be cool to see where we're at."
The answer to this point in the season has been simple: the very top. Both the boys and girls squads added -- yawn! -- first-place finishes to their already stuffed list of exploits this season last week, running Sept. 15 at the Bonner Springs Invitational.
Carly Stanley and Ellie Sheridan finished first and second in the girls race as the Cats finished with 18 points, not even squinting distance from second-place Mill Valley, which had 79.
Colin Jokisch was second in the boys race behind Daniel Haines of Paola, but the De Soto again won handily, finishing with 35 points to second-place Paola's 59.
"It was an exciting race," Stanley said. "Our team stayed together. The first half of the course was easy but the second half is very hard."
She can expect a whole lot more of "hard" when it trips to Raymore.
The field isn't just impressive because of its size, but also it's top-tier quality. De Soto, a school comfortably nestled in the Class 4A ranks, is the only Kansas school of its size prepared to attend. There will be four Class 5A schools running, as well as nine 6A behemoths.
Included will be Kansas 5A's St. Thomas Aquinas, the 2006 boys and girls team state champions; Liberty, Mo, Missouri's largest-class (Class 4) girls state champions; Lee's Summit North, Mo., the Class 4 sixth-place team; Kearney, Mo. fifth in Missouri's Class 3 boys division and Notre Dame de Sion, Mo., runner up in the girl's Class 3 division.
Counting De Soto's girls team, that's four 2006 state champions on a collision course.
McAfee said he doesn't expect his teams to maintain their pristine record -- in fact, that's to a small degree the point.
"With the girls, I don't know that we've been as prepared as we should be," he said. "There's this attitude that all they have to do is show up to run.
"That's not the case. They need to get humbled a little bit to understand."
That doesn't go to say McAfee expects his teams to fail. Rather, he said he expects the experience to be yet another great step in what is shaping up to be a great season.
"We're a small school and it'll be nice to get in there and show that small schools can run well too," he said. "There are a couple coaches who always have the 'I coach at a big school, so I'm better' mentality, so I want to take my team over there and beat them."