Lions, Wedge eye XC repeat

“When I race, I’m competitive.”

The short words given by Lawrence High cross country runner Roy Wedge only begin to explain his success as a Lion.

During his rookie season in 2006, Wedge placed 20th at the state meet as the top freshmen competitor, according to Lawrence High cross country coach Brian Anderson.

“He got eighth at state as a sophomore,” Anderson said. “His times have (improved) each year.”

Wedge’s race times continued to improve last season, as he finished in second place overall at the state meet, and helped lead the Lions to their first boys cross country state title.

With a time of 16:08.46, Wedge finished just one second behind winner Brayden Barrienez of Wichita Haysville-Campus High.

“I was a lot more excited about the team state title than getting second place,” Wedge said. “It would have been nice to catch the guy, but I was happy at the end of the day.”

Though the team finish was more important to Wedge than his individual showing, with the second-place finish and a reputation of continuous improvement, it is no surprise that there is talk of an individual state title for the soon-to-be LHS senior and captain.

“I have had a lot of people tell me I can do it,” Wedge said. “It’s worth a try.”

According to Anderson, an individual title is obtainable for Wedge, yet it is just a matter of which runner gets there on that day.

“He is really a special runner,” Anderson said. “He knows how to run and how to compete. He just knows what it takes to get where he needs to be at the finish line. It takes a special person to be able to know that.”

While anticipating the upcoming season, Wedge is running daily with his teammates to stay in shape.

A group of five Lawrence High runners, including Wedge, also attended a cross country camp in July in Wisconsin, according to Wedge, which emphasized proper form and workouts.

Wedge is not the only runner on the Lawrence High team who is dedicated.

In fact, of the 2008 state championship team, the Lions lost just one of their top 10 runners.

“As far as our strength goes, everybody on the team is running faster at this point than a year ago.” Anderson said. “We are hoping that we will be as strong or stronger than last season.”

According to Anderson, there are a lot of variables that will determine whether Lawrence High can repeat as state champion this season.

“I think if I can keep them all healthy, we should be up in the running for it,” Anderson said. “Training, diet, and rest are important so they can compete to their best level. It just depends on who prepares best.”

One big obstacle to overcome is Shawnee Mission Northwest, which won the Class 6A state title 14 straight years before Lawrence High’s upset last fall.

According to Anderson, the Cougars want revenge.

“They are going to bring everything back at us,” he said.

With Wedge returning as a captain for the squad, the challenge of a repeat performance is substantial. But hopes remain high.

“We’re Lawrence High. We are always going for state titles,” Wedge said. “I know our team is going to try. As far as I’m concerned, I want everyone to go out there and run as hard as they can. If that doesn’t win it, fine with me.”