Lady Bobcats win league title
Katelynn Witt’s finish breaks tie with Tonganoxie
Since the first meet of the season Basehor-Linwood High School cross country coach Jeff Venema knew he had one of the deepest girls' teams in the area. That depth paid off big time Thursday, as the Lady Bobcats took the league title, thanks to the performance of their sixth runner, junior Katelynn Witt.
Usually only the top five runners from each school count toward the team score. The top five for the Lady Bobcats Thursday were Amanda Vitt (9th place overall, 16:50), Kayla Peterson (10th, 16:52), Megan Tush (15th, 17:28), Emily Lackner (17th, 17:55) and Caren Chellgren (19th, 17:56).
Those five accounted for 63 points, putting BLHS dead even with Tonganoxie for first place. League officials then went to the teams' sixth runners to break the tie and when the official running the medal ceremony announced that Tonganoxie's sixth runner had finished 27th and Witt had finished 21st, it touched off a wild, tearful celebration among the Basehor-Linwood girls.
"This is the best, knowing that I won the league meet for our team, it's so exciting," Witt said. "I'm about ready to start crying."
No team was better equipped to break a tie Thursday than the Lady Bobcats, with Witt and sophomore Ashtynne Farris easily the strongest 6th and 7th runners in the meet. Farris finished 23nd, just four seconds behind Witt. In the end, the Lady Bobcats didn't have one unbeatable superstar, but they had seven all-stars, and that balance led them to the school's first league championship in cross country.
"It was just a momentous occasion for us to win this thing," Venema said. "We're just delighted."
Venema said several of his runners told him that during the race some of the other schools' fans were yelling for their runners to "stick with green and gold," something he'd never experienced in his four years as head coach of the cross country team.
By finishing in the top 10, Vitt and Peterson earned first team all-league honors. Tush, Lackner and Chellgren all earned second team, while Witt and Farris secured honorable mentions.
If the other KVL teams need more proof that the Lady Bobcats were the deepest team at Wyandotte County Park on Thursday, they need only look at the junior varsity standings. Basehor-Linwood's j.v. girls also took first place, with seven runners finishing in the top 12.
Megan Rehm took second with a time of 18:19, which would have put her in the top 25 in the varsity race. She was followed by Maggie Schroeder (4th place, 19:17), Hanna Bates (5th, 19:26), Sydney Stallbaumer (7th, 19:49), Jordanne Leiker (9th, 19:54), Randee Manis (11th, 20:33) and Hannah Auman (12th, 20:44).
Alex Vitt took home a medal in the boys varsity race by finishing 17th, with a time of 18:55. Dakota Heese led the boys junior varsity team, finishing 36th, despite running with a hip injury he suffered playing football.
Witt was the day's biggest hero, though. She had gotten used to finishing sixth or seventh on the Lady Bobcats' ultra-deep roster and when she gutted out the last few yards of Thursday's race it never crossed her mind that they might figure so prominently in the league standings.
"I had no clue," Witt said. "I was just trying to improve my own time and then it came down to this."
For more on BLHS cross country, including the upcoming regional tournament in Garnett, see next week's Sentinel.
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