Bobcats off and running
The girl's cross country team is ready to make 2005 their best season under third year coach Jeff Venema. They got off to a positive start last Thursday, finishing second in the Tonganoxie triangular.
The girls team had three runners finish in the top 10; sophomore Caren Chellgren finished fifth, junior Emily McAfoos seventh and sophomore Emily Lackner ninth. The varsity was even running without one of their best runners.
Junior Megan Tush, who qualified for state her freshman season, ran in the junior varsity race. Tush has been forced to miss some practice time after she blacked out during practice a couple weeks ago. Tush had to go to two doctors before she was cleared to run again and missed the team's time trials.
Since Tush missed the time trials, Venema was forced to run her in the junior varsity race at Tonganoxie and Tush dominated, finishing first. She is starting to feel like her old self.
"I trained a lot this summer I'm hoping to go to state again like I did freshman year and hopefully take a couple girls with me," Tush said.
Chellgren, the team's top runner, also has her sights set on state.
"I think I'll improve a lot because I'm a year older and I have more will to push myself this year," Chellgren said.
Venema is pleased with the depth and experience he has on the girls team.
"Our girls are more competitive this year and they know it," Venema said.
Venema was concerned going into the race because he knew the other schools at the meet also had strong girl's teams.
"I was very pleased with what we did on the girls side," Venema said. "When it's just a triangular and the other three schools are pretty darn good, it's easy to look bad but we didn't."
Venema was also impressed with the performance of his boy's team at the meet. The boy's team lacks the depth and experience as the girl's team but they have already shown vast improvement from years past.
"They are just way better than they were last year and way better than they were the year before," Venema said.
The boy's top performer in Tonganoxie was somewhat of a surprise. Sophomore Alex Vitt finished 16th, three spots ahead of junior teammate Josh Baptista. Baptista is expected to be the top runner on the boy's side; however, he was battling a knee injury during the race.
For much of the race another surprise was out front for the Bobcats. Senior Dustin Sullivan, who finished 20th, is on the cross country team in an effort to get in the best possible shape for wrestling season. Venema has welcomed Sullivan with open arms.
"Those kind of guys really have my respect because all they want to do is work as hard as they possibly can to fulfill their own personal goals and by doing that they can help us out too," Venema said. "I'll be the guy sitting in the first row during wrestling season cheering him on because that's what he deserves after what he'll do for me."