Cross country teams ready to run the good race
The Eudora High School boys and girls cross-country may be running the same courses this season but the two teams are vastly different in terms of numbers and leadership.
The boys team will field 13 runners, including five who competed for the team that placed eighth at the regional meet last season. Although there are no seniors, juniors James Barr and Austin Roberts and the sophomore trio of Jeff Jones, Ian Mater and William Steel will play a leadership role for the eight new runners in the program.
"We learned a lot at regionals about what it takes to be competitive at this level," Coach Paul Boone said. "We are returning the core of our team and our five freshmen are looking good so far."
Eudora begins the season at Anderson County on Aug. 30 before going to Wamego on Sept. 8. The second event will give the team experience on the site of the 4A state championship meet. The Cardinals will also run at Wellsville, Tonganoxie and Gardner-Edgerton and other familiar courses. The Frontier League meet will also be at Gardner-Edgerton.
Boone said that this year's Cardinals would be ready to handle the challenges ahead.
The team is circling Oct. 4 on the calendar. That is the date of the EHS Invitational, the lone home meet of the season.
"Our goal is to continually improve on the capabilities that we have," Boone said. "We love to run in front of the hometown crowd. Last year, we ran in the mud and rain at Eudora and the kids rose to the challenge."
Mater said the team's experience with the different courses would be a factor this season because the Cardinals will know what to expect.
"We will be working really hard but it is good knowing what the courses are like," Mater said. "Wamego is the toughest because there are a lot of hills."
Boone expects the Frontier League to be competitive once again, but he thinks that the senior-less boys' team will be ready to hold its own against some of the upper-echelon teams in the conference like Anderson County and defending state champion Baldwin.
"Our goal is a top three regional finish," Boone said. "We have good leadership, work ethic and practice. James Barr had a good track season and I look for him to set the pace."
Adding to the Cardinals' experience are junior transfers Andy Besser and John Thoennes. Boone added that he is optimistic about sophomore Tighe VanAnne and the freshmen class of Paul McCleery, Danny Moody, Scot Mullis, William Rodriguez.
Leadership will not be a problem for the girls team, but scoring points may become a challenge. Three seniors, Jill Abel, Estelle Montgomery and Rhiannon Tiner, make up the roster this season. A three-year veteran of the varsity team, Tiner said it is not always easy running with two teammates but she enjoys helping the younger male runners.
"We give them a lot of advice and keep them inspired," Montgomery said. "It is tough to run with (a small roster). You have to have something to be inspired about and it takes a lot more self confidence."
With the effort being shown by his athletes, Boone feels fortunate to coach the Eudora High School team.
"I'm real proud of our kids because they are stepping up and willing to do some things," Boone said. "I'll be proud of them whether we win state championships or not."