Archive for Thursday, October 8, 2009

Basehor runners hitting their stride, deserving of spotlight

October 8, 2009

Football has garnered the bulk of the spotlight around town this fall, and that’s understandable considering the Basehor-Linwood football team has established itself as one of the favorites to win the Kaw Valley League championship.

The Bobcats own a 4-1 record — including a convincing victory against 2008 Class 5A state quarterfinalist Turner — and they’re a field goal away from being undefeated.

Still, it would be a mistake to overlook the rapid improvement of the BLHS cross country team this fall.

The Bobcats have made too much progress this fall and are far too good to be ignored. Opponents aren’t taking them lightly, and neither should we.

The strength of the team is the girls’ squad, which has evolved from being a one-woman show last year to a dominant all-around team.

An early-season injury to Hannah Tush weakened the Bobcats’ lineup last year, and Kayla Peterson was the team’s one true threat week in and week out. She qualified for state individually in 2008 and finished 48th. Her teammates all made the trip to Wamego to watch her run, though. Coach Jeff Venema wanted the Bobcats to grow familiar with the course and return in 2009 as competitors instead of spectators.

Peterson is back this year, and the senior has a full cast of talented runners around her. Tush is having a stellar sophomore season. The Bobcats are more than two deep, though. Seniors Megan Rehm and Casey Mahoney, juniors Shelby Miles and Sheridan Miles and sophomore Brooke Redmond all have extensive varsity experience, and freshman Haley Stallbaumer is expected to make an impact once she recovers from a stress fracture.

The BLHS girls have three team titles through five meets this season, so they quickly are becoming a proven commodity.

Meanwhile, the Bobcat boys aren’t quite at the state-qualifying level with their times, but that’s OK. They’re getting closer, and they have only juniors, sophomores and freshmen on the roster. Venema has emphasized that the team is building for next year. Based on the progress seen so far, there is every reason to believe the boys could be state-bound next season.

All seven varsity runners broke the 19-minute barrier Thursday at the Lansing Invitational. The two fastest BLHS runners — juniors Brady Blackwood and Mike Torrez — clocked times in the mid-17s. That should have them on the bubble to qualify individually for state, and a few of their teammates aren’t far behind.

The offseason commitment is beginning to pay off, Venema’s vision for the program is beginning to pan out and more good things should be in store for the Bobcats on the cross country course.

This is not a team that should be overlooked.

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