Basehor-Linwood runners making strides
Freshman brings home Bobcats’ first medal of the year
It was a memorable day for the Basehor-Linwood High School cross country team and an even more memorable start for one Bobcat.
For the first time in nearly 10 years the Bobcats -- both boys and girls -- wrapped up a cross country meet with complete team scores. For first-year coach Jeff Venema, the season-opening Tonganoxie meet, which took place Thursday, Sept. 4, was the culmination of an offseason's worth of hard work.
"Overall, we are pleased to have had a team score for both our girls and our boys," Venema said. "We worked hard to get kids interested in cross country, and it's nice to see them stick with it."
The girls finished third at Tonganoxie, while the boys finished fourth.
Leading the way for BLHS was the performance by Megan Tush. Tush, a freshman, is in her first year of cross country, and in her first race she finished ninth, taking home the only medal for BLHS.
Despite the opener being Tush's first varsity race, Venema said he was impressed.
"I was not surprised to see Megan Tush medal," he said. "She had shown with the times she was racking up in practice that she would probably be competitive. I know that she had made it a personal goal to medal."
Another freshman, Amanda Vitt, also ran well for the girls, placing 17th and just missing a medal.
Vitt and Tush, along with Erryn Denk and April Diello-Talley, spent the early part of the race running together, and Venema said it was nice to see the team concept taken so literally.
"I think the girls are starting to enjoy the team concept," Venema said.
On the boys side of things the Bobcats placed two runners in the top 20 but did not bring home any hardware.
Richard Brock finished 15th and Steven Bower took 18th.
Venema said he thought his guys were overwhelmed by the competition and that he's going to stress individual improvement over team scores with the boys in the early going.
"The boys were a little amazed at how good the other teams were last week at Tonganoxie," Venema said. "With them, we have to worry about our own personal bests and not what the other schools are doing, but that's hard to do sometimes."
Overall, Venema said he was encouraged by his team's fast start across the board and will now look to push them more in practice.
"Now that the temperatures have come down and we have gained some experience, we're starting to put in longer training runs," Venema said. "That's a little dangerous because we have two meets this week, but we're trying to look at the big picture of being strong down the stretch. As far as I'm concerned, the meets we go to this week are just glorified practices."