Lackner preparing for Kaw Valley League race
Runner is leading team’s hopes of repeating
Defending the Kaw Valley League title in girls cross country running will be difficult without Megan Tush and Amanda Vitt. For Emily Lackner, a senior captain, last year's dream season has provided the motivation for a repeat.
"I seriously think if I am the only one that thinks we can, then we can't," Lackner said. "But if we have the mindset, we definitely can. When we won last year, it was an amazing feeling. There were tears. We were so excited. I would love that feeling again. It was amazing. It is a feeling that a lot of people strive to feel throughout their lives and just can't.
"When we went into league last year, we were pumped and ready to win the league championship. We set it in our minds that we could. Most people had the best time of their season at league. I think if we can carry that through to this year, and don't count ourselves out, it's possible. It will take willpower and determination to defend our title."
Lackner, who began running distance in seventh grade, has been battling injures. Most recently, she said the arch in her foot collapsed when a tendon came loose. The injury occurred before the season, and Lackner elected not to go to the doctor. She said she couldn't bear to hear the prognosis, which could have ended her senior season. She is currently running with arch supports.
"I don't want it to become an excuse," Lackner said. "At this point in my career, there is no room for it to be an excuse."
Lackner said the girls team needs to improve their production.
"After last year, we lost some good runners, and we lost a lot of depth with that," Lackner said. "The girls know that we are missing those people and we need to step up. We ran against Tonganoxie earlier and that is a little competition that we have. All their runners are up at the top. We know that we have to push it to get to that level."
After a lackluster showing at the Bonner Springs Invitational last Wednesday, coach Jeff Venema was disappointed in the squad.
"I was very disappointed with the results from the varsity girls race," Venema said. "We are not accustomed to finding ourselves in seventh place and have no intention of going back there anytime soon. Almost every runner ran at a slower pace than she did last year at the same meet. Not only that, but we practice on this course regularly and have no good excuses for such a sorry performance. As far as I'm concerned, this is an important crossroads moment in our season. How will we react to this? I feel certain that they won't repeat what they did at Bonner."
Lackner echoed those sentiments.
"I think everyone realizes what they did and everyone needs to do that much better. We are still in the running to defend our league championship."
The team appeared to bounce back in a race earlier this week.
The BLHS cross country team swept all four team events in Nemaha Valley on Tuesday .
The boys and girls varsity and JV squads all took first.
Tyler Henley was second in the boys varsity race and Caren Chellgren finished fifth in the girls varsity race.
Martin Buck and Hanna Bates each won their JV events.
21 Bobcat runners won individual medal.
"It was a great day for our team," coach Jeff Venema said.
Lackner, who has been running between third and fourth on the girls team, hopes to improve her place on the team.
Lackner is currently looking at Highland Community College in Atchison. She has been talking to coaches about running cross country and joining the indoor track team.
For now, she will continue chasing an elusive repeat championship.
"I always heard that running isn't a sport," Lackner said. "I heard, 'All you do is run around. Football and basketball are the real sports.' That always got on my nerves. Cross country, once you get out there and run a meet, it is a whole different thing. The main thing in cross country is it is a mental sport. Your muscles get tired and you cramp up and you have trouble breathing and it becomes: who is more mentally strong and can push through it? Who is the better person? If you don't think you can finish it, you won't get very far..