Lawrence High’s boys cross country team has been waiting for this moment for quite a while.
And the time is now.
Today, when the Lions head to Rim Rock Farm for the third time this season, they’ll take the course as the defending Class 6A state champions and, therefore, will run with that giant bull’s-eye on their backs.
Not to worry, says LHS coach Brian Anderson.
“It is really exciting to have enough depth to stay strong this year,” Anderson said. “However, it did not come without a lot of hard work and sacrifices as they worked to improve over last year’s efforts.”
By now, those efforts are legendary. Never before had the LHS boys cross country team won a state title. And perennial power Shawnee Mission Northwest had not lost one in 14 years.
But the Lions found a way to snap the streak. Now, a handful of guys who played key roles in last year’s run are hoping to start a streak of their own.
It all starts with senior Roy Wedge, the odds-on favorite to win the individual title. Wedge has finished in first place at all but two meets this season. And with him functioning as the team’s pace-setter, the rest of the bunch follows closely behind. Joining Wedge in going after state title No. 2 today will be: Joseph Springer, Calvin Morgan, Nicolas Shump, Simon Fangman, Zach Andregg and Nathan Stringer.
Joining the Lions in the field this season will be the Free State High boys team, which qualified with a third-place finish at last week’s regional tournament at Haskell Indian Nations University.
Seven Free State boys will give it one final go, hoping to add one more memorable chapter to a solid season.
“This team learned how to elevate its performance at big meets and did so again (last) Saturday,” FSHS coach Steve Heffernan said. “We realize there are a couple of teams that would be tough to beat. I think placing in the top six would be a great accomplishment for this season.”
The city’s girls teams will be represented entirely by individuals at today’s event. Free State will send Hayley Francis, Morgan Flannigan and Libby Wiebe to the course, while the Lions will watch Lucy Daldorph and Shelby Clark go after personal bests.
Today’s boys race will begin at 10 a.m. The girls will run at 11 a.m.