Basehor running teams preparing for next year
With another season of Basehor-Linwood cross country complete, it appears the boys and girls team's identities for next year's season will be divergent: the boys return a very solid nucleus with Tyler Henley and Ryan Lawless and appear ready to compete for a league title.
The girls team will have a major identity change for the second straight year. After losing Amanda Vitt and Megan Tush to graduation this season, Emily Lackner and Caren Chellgren will now depart.
"We've built a solid foundation on the boy's side," coach Jeff Venema said. "We lose two seniors, but will return five freshmen and sophomore letter winners who have an opportunity to be pretty good. On the girls side, our big push will be to replace runners who have devoted four years to the team. It won't be easy."
Venema was already ready to go soon after this season concluded.
"I wish we started tomorrow. It seems like an awfully long time to wait to
find out what kind of team we'll be," he said. "We have a chance to be pretty good on the boy's team next year. It all depends on what they do next summer. Tyler Henley and Ryan Lawless are being given the chance to be team leaders. I don't know yet whether they're up to the job. Our girls need help from the current middle schoolers, and there are a couple girls there who should help us. Kayla Peterson and Megan Rehm will carry the girl's team on their backs."
Henley is up for the leader challenge.
"I think I can handle the responsibility of it because I realize what we have going right now," Henley said. "It will be a big deal what we can do for the school."
The team loses 11 seniors: Alex Vitt, Caren Chellgren, Sheila Holm, Lauren
Mills, Jordanne Leiker, and Adam Palfreyman, Emily Lackner, Katelynn Witt, Caitlin Britt, David Reimers and Maggie Schroeder.
Next year's team probably won't have to contend with the same expectations that faced this year's squad, after the 2006 Lady Bobcats won the KVL league title.
"We were league champions last year, so it's hard sometimes to not have increased expectations every year," Venema said. "But, I think this team pretty much gave me as much as it was able to. They tried hard."
Henley was happy with the boy's team progress this year.
"I think it was a big improvement from last year," Henley said. "We had more talent. Our boy's team has never been good. We were getting first and second places as a team and we started to believe we could be good at the end of the season."
Does Henley think the boys can win the league title next year?
"Oh yeah. We just have to beat out Bonner; they are really good-- and Tonganoxie. We could be in the top three in the league for sure if we work hard enough at it," Henley said.
Henley also has high aspirations individually.
"Next year I plan on going to state," Henley said. "I should have had it this year, but I didn't have a good race."
Venema may already hope to get next season started, but he realizes he is losing a pair of highly talented runners.
"It will feel a lot different next year without Emily Lackner and Caren Chellgren," Venema said. "I don't look forward to it. They've been the dominant personalities, the leaders, for four years. Their departure is an opportunity for younger runners to realize their own dreams about being a varsity runner for Basehor-Linwood."