The road ahead
Cardinal runners will cross state tourney country at Wamego
The Eudora High School cross-country team will race on the course where Class 4A championships are decided.
The Cardinals will get a sneak preview of the state championship course on Sept. 8 when they trek to Wamego.
"I always look forward to the Wamego meet," EHS cross-country Coach Paul Boone said. "It gives us a chance to visualize what it will be like if we qualify for state. It is a difficult course but if you approach it in a positive manner, you'll run better."
Several fresh faces contributed to the Cardinals' eighth place finish (out of 17 teams) in the season opener at Anderson County last Thursday.
Three Cardinal runners, sophomore Tighe Van Anne, junior Andy Besser and freshman William Bock all made their EHS cross-country debuts on the hilly, 3.1-mile course while sophomore Ian Mater and junior James Barr, the Cardinals' top runner at the end of last season, were sidelined with injuries.
Van Anne led all EHS runners in the 67 runner field. He placed 21st with a time of 19:26.
"Tighe has matured a lot since he ran in middle school," Boone said. "He ran very, very well in his first race."
Besser, a transfer from Oskaloosa High School, made his Cardinal debut with a 37th place finish and a time of 20:20. Fellow junior Austin Roberts set a personal record with a time of 21:05, 32 seconds faster than his time at last season's Anderson County meet, in his 46th place finish.
Roberts said he gained confidence from the Anderson County meet that he hopes will carry over at Wamego.
"I think I had a good start for the year but I want to keep improving," Roberts said. "Wamego is another golf course. It has steeper hills and its going to be harder."
Sophomore Jeff Jones completed the course in 21:34 while Bock ran a 24:05.
Boone said he is hopeful Barr and Mater return for the Wamego race on Saturday.
Boone said he was pleased with the Cardinals' ability to hold their own against some of the teams at the meet.
"I'm pleased with how we did and where we are at," Boone said. "The kids took care of the things that they could, warmed up well and performed pretty well overall."
On the girls' side, seniors Jill Abel and Estelle Montgomery both medaled and placed in the top 30. Abel finished 17th with a time of 14:18, while Montgomery placed 30th (15:03) on the 2-mile course. Senior Rhiannon Tiner, one of three members of the EHS girls' cross-country team, injured her knee prior to the season opener. It is unknown whether she will race at Wamego.
Although the girls' team is shor-handed this season, Abel says she thrives on the opportunity to be a senior leader for the cross-country team.
"Coach Boone expects a lot more out of the seniors," Abel said. "We have to pull the other runners through and be role models for the new runners."
Boone said that strategy and response under pressure will also dictate how the young Cardinals will fare at Wamego.
"They will have to respond when someone gets beside them or when they are going downhill in order to be competitive," Boone said. "Everyone should win their own race as individuals whether it is battling it out for the last medal or not."