League championships don’t escape Bishop Carroll girls cross country coach Ran Nielsen often.
In his 22 seasons of coaching, Nielsen has stitched 16 years of league titles onto the program’s banner. The Golden Eagles will once again be overwhelming favorites when they run in the City League meet Saturday morning at Cessna Activity Center.
After a five-year stretch without a title, Carroll has won the last four league races.
“It’s nice to see the girls get back to that because that was Bishop Carroll’s tradition, to be City League champions,” Nielsen said. “It’s a good feeling to see the girls put our string back together.”
Carroll has excelled with its depth, bolstered by Emily Woods, Amanda Reggeti and Victoria Reggeti. Of course, the Eagles are stacked up top with elite runners Kaelyn Balch and Katherine Dillard.
Balch, the defending Class 5A champion, is the overwhelming favorite to win her first league title.
“As far as times go, Kaelyn is definitely one of the best runners we’ve ever had,” Nielsen said. “She’s been great for us and we know she still has goals left.”
But the Wildcats haven’t let their league title streak end, as they will go for their sixth straight at 4 p.m. Thursday at Wartick Farm near El Dorado.
“These guys understand the work ethic that it takes,” Mulvane coach Dale Landes said. “It starts with our summer training in June and July and that’s what will help us in October.”
Mulvane has an established frontrunner in Ren Bean and has formed a solid pack behind him with Miles Hilgers, Levi Carver, Liam Trooien-Smith, Kyle Spotts and Luca Trooien-Smith.
Maize South enters as the favorite, especially after winning the Crimson division at the Rim Rock Invitational. In that race, Maize South defeated Valley Center by 52 points and Eisenhower by 248.
But in a condensed race, Valley Center could contend with Morgan Wedekind expected to contend for the win and improved performances from Kalee Owens, Kayla Barton and Shelby Marten.
“We’ll have to split up a couple in their pack with our second, third and fourth runners,” Valley Center coach Lonnie Thiessen said. “Every single point is going to be more important. If we don’t split up their pack, then we have no chance of finishing ahead of them.”
Eisenhower enters as a respected underdog.
“That’s kind of the angle we’re taking,” Eisenhower coach Jeff Taylor said. “Most people are looking at this as a shootout between Maize South and Valley, but we’re trying to turn some heads and surprise some people.”