Girls’ cross country team captures conference and regional championships, finishes ninth at State

The De Soto High School girls cross country team poses with their regional championship trophy at the Regional cross country meet on Oct 26.

Wildcat Photo

The De Soto High School girls cross country team poses with their regional championship trophy at the Regional cross country meet on Oct 26.

Maggie Kroeger, Editor in Chief

The De Soto High School girls’ cross country team competed at the United Kansas Conference on Oct 18, as well as the Kansas 5A Regional cross country meet on Oct 26. The team captured first place at both meets, as well as qualified to run at the State cross country meet at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence on Nov 2. 

After training throughout the entirety of the summer and continuing at the beginning of the school year, the win felt like a symbol for their hard work, according to senior Justine Wheeler. 

“It was honestly the best feeling ever to win both league and regionals, especially since it’s my senior year,” Wheeler said. “The team has worked so hard since summer training and all of our hard work is finally paying off.” 

While training over the summer can seem difficult, Wheeler believes that it is what prepared them the most to succeed, on top of their coaching staff. 

“Training all summer and running miles on miles together as a girls team has really been what has prepared us for our success this year,” Wheeler said. “Sachse, Stamey and Lehrman have also been really good coaches and they all work really well together to motivate us and help us succeed.” 

According to assistant coach Ben Stamey, there were some different approaches taken to training that overall helped the team improve. 

“We ran on softer surfaces, like grass and gravel or mud and bike trails and things like that, and about once a week we went to a swimming pool and did Aqua-jogging,” Stamey explained. “We went on softer surfaces and even did more cross training to try to prevent injury.” 

While the girls’ team is relatively small with only seven members, it doesn’t stop them from coming together and creating success as a group. 

“I think as a girls’ team, we are all very encouraging to each other and always make sure to calm each other’s nerves before races, especially important ones,” Wheeler said. “We always do prayer circles together before our meets which also just helps us calm our nerves and prepare us for the race.” 

According to Stamey, the small number created a tight knit group between the girls’ team. 

“I think it made a very tight knit group that got to compete against each other, and we also had some very good seniors that had a lot of leadership. They were able to influence the whole team since it was a little smaller,” Stamey said. 

Within that tight knit group, the characteristics of its team members also contributed to the successful and hardworking atmosphere. 

“You have to be a little weird to be a long distance runner, and once we all realized that we have that unique trait of athletics that our sport asks of us, we all really bonded over that,” Stamey explained. 

After sweeping the conference and regional titles, the girls’ team ran at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence at the State meet on Nov 2. This was the first time that the team as a whole had qualified in five years, and placed ninth in class 5A. 

“We had a pretty successful State meet on both the boys and girls side. We were all really happy to have made it to State together, and it’s always fun to get to run at Rim Rock again. Overall, we had a very successful cross country season thanks to our amazing coaches,” Wheeler said. 

Stamey also viewed the season as successful in relation to capturing titles, as well as through improvement individually. 

“Both teams qualified for State for the first time in five years, and both had top-10 finishes in the State. There was a lot of success, and we can find it anywhere we look, even in terms of who got faster throughout the year and their improvements that way. When we compare ourselves to other teams, we were one of the best in the state,” Stamey said.