Newton seniors Austin Lettau and Rene Madrigal know what it is like to experience the lows in cross country.
The pair expected to be Newton's top runners last fall, but each missed the majority of their junior seasons. Lettau battled with the flu most of the fall, while Madrigal suffered a stress fracture.
Both recovered in time for successful track seasons and now they're the 1-2 punch of a Newton team looking to improve on its seventh-place finish at the Class 5A meet last year.
"They've both had to deal with some adversity," Newton coach Richard Mick said. "They are both motivated to make their senior years successful. They're running really well right now and if they're able to stay healthy, should only get better as the season goes along."
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Last week at the Swather Special in Hesston, Lettau and Madrigal broke 17 minutes to place in the top three in the senior race.
Newton is just as competitive with its middle runners, as the trio of Adam Kelsey, Dilan Winter and Joey Greene have made for a good team score.
But it's the two seniors that will have the last say on team success.
"Those are definitely our two leaders," Mick said. "They had great summers and got a lot of miles in. It's still very early, but we're pretty optimistic."
Coming to America — Trinity Academy coach Steve Miller didn't know much about Katrine Vigilius before the first day of practice. From what he gathered, she had moved from Denmark to live with her cousins and her favorite sport was soccer.
His interest was piqued after her first run.
"I don't remember how far we ended up running, but I know one thing — she kept up with all the boys," Miller said. "After that first day, I knew she had a chance to be pretty good."
While Vigilius ran to stay conditioned for soccer, she had never run a 4-kilometer course before. In her second meet last week in Hesston, the sophomore took second in her class' race with a time of 15 minutes, 52 seconds.
"She's just feeling out her way right now," Miller said. "She has a chance to get even better. But we're just excited to have her here, not only for her ability but also her personality on the team."
Better than ever — Graduating five of seven runners from its girls team that placed second at Class 5A last year, Bishop Carroll braced for change this season. But additions to the team have transformed expectations.
"I think we're just as good as we were last year," said junior Christian McCaulley, one of the two returners. "We might not have as many upperclassmen, but we know we have big shoes to fill and they're willing to do it."
The other returner, sophomore Kaelyn Balch, already appears to be in state-level form after posting a time of 14:35 in last week's Swather Special in Hesston. McCaulley gives the team another lead-pack runner.
But the difference has been the quick transition made to high school running by freshmen Miranda Reichenberger and Courtney Jordan. The team is rounded out by Katherine Dillard, Katie Cannata and Kristen Powell, all of whom have broken 17 minutes this season.