A young Mulvane squad was looking forward to getting a veteran boost as the girls’ cross country postseason moved along.
Instead, the Wildcats got one of their most experienced runners back a week early and used that momentum to win the AV-CTL IV championship on Saturday.
Erika Landes, who qualified for the Class 4A meet a year ago but had missed the entire junior season until returning for the league meet, finished fourth to help Mulvane earn its first league title in program history.
“It’s was just about getting everyone healthy all at the same time,” Mulvane coach Dale Landes said. “We were planning on waiting to run Erika until the regional, but we thought we had an opportunity at league, so we went ahead and ran her there, and it worked out.”
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That plan worked great for Mulvane in the first step of the postseason journey, but in order to bust another streak and reach the state meet as a team for the first time since the 1980s, it’ll need to outperform itself again.
Taking on teams such as Maize South, Circle, Andover Central, Andale and Trinity Academy at the El Dorado regional on Saturday, the Wildcats understand they’ll have to run even better than they did at the league meet.
“Our regional is loaded with a lot of talent,” Dale Landes said. “Whoever qualifies out of that is going to have to really earn it. We’ll have to run even better, and I thought we ran really well at the league meet. We packed it up with our top three, but to advance to state, it’s going to take a pretty special effort.”
Kapaun looking to get back to states — A lower finish than expected at the City League meet on Saturday was tough for Kapaun Mount Carmel, which was eyeing a spot in the top three.
Instead, North slipped by a number of Kapaun runners near the finish to edge the Crusaders for that third. Now, the Kapaun boys will turn their focus to a similar challenge, and look to break an unfortunate, but short, streak.
“Last year was the first year since our freshmen have been alive that the Kapaun boys didn’t qualify for state,” coach Kyle Martens said. “That kind of left a sting, and we don’t want it to happen again. I want them to think that it’s not just about qualifying, but that we deserve to get in.”
In order to get back to Rim Rock, the Crusaders have to get through a tough Emporia regional, although Martens sees a path that can get that done. If Kapaun can follow Newton, which Martens sees as similar to North, it can possibly get its way inside that all-important top three.
“We’ve been keeping an eye on Newton when we can see their results, and they’ve been about on par with North,” he said. “I think we have a chance to compete with Newton, and we’re hoping that since we let North beat us in the City meet, we’ll take it up a notch at regionals.”