Varsity Kansas

Cross country notes: Valley Center girls will be tested at Rim Rock

Watching five runners on the same girls cross country team cross the finish line in the top 10 is quite the spectacle, Valley Center coach Lonnie Thiessen admits.

The Hornets have dominated the three races they have attended to begin the season, but all three of those meets have been smaller with Valley Center being the largest team there.

That will change this week, when Valley Center runs at the Rim Rock Invitational in the crimson division. And so the Hornets will also have to change, in order to improve with the important meets waiting at the end of October.

“Having all five together is nice, but at some point in October we’re going to need a few of them, whoever they are, to jump up instead of being content to stay in the pack the whole time,” Thiessen said.

Valley Center returned Kalee Owens, Kayla Barton, Katie Martini, Shelby Marten and Morgan McCullough from last season’s state-qualifying team, then added freshmen Madison Breault and Jadyn Eddy to the mix.

Already, Breault and Eddy have the two-best averages on the team after the first three races, making Valley Center a threat in Class 5A. The top five runners have all cracked 16 minutes, 30 seconds over 4 kilometers this season.

“I coach middle-school girls track, so I knew of them last year,” Thiessen said. “They’ve been terrific. Our top five have all been right around the same position from meet to meet, so hopefully we can one or two begin to separate toward the finish.”

East improving — After opening the season with a disappointing race where he didn’t crack 21 minutes over 5 kilometers, East sophomore Raymond O’Day had a choice to make. He could either sulk or improve.

After being demoted to junior varsity, O’Day responded by winning the race and then carried the momentum over into last week’s Southeast Invitational, where he picked up a medal with his time of 17:36.

“It was just a decision he made that we was finally going to race,” East coach Michael Draut said. “He knew he didn’t run well to start the season, so I think he just finally decided to get his rear end into gear and get moving.”

The East girls have also shown improvement this season, although the team has been plagued by injuries.

Cierra DeVorce has become the team’s No. 1 runner, while East has Brooke Colglazier, Cameron Hill, and Allison McNeely all capable of breaking 17 minutes.

East will race in the gold division of the Rim Rock Invitational this Saturday.

“I think we can be real competitive again this year,” Draut said. “They’re just now getting into shape, so we’re getting better. We have an idea of what they can do, so we’re just trying to get there now.”