Varsity Kansas

Check out the top 10 boys, girls cross country teams ahead of the high school season

All-Metro Cross Country Coach of the Year, Bishop Carroll’s Ran Nielsen

Bishop Carroll coach Ran Nielsen talks about the 2018 season
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Bishop Carroll coach Ran Nielsen talks about the 2018 season

Some of the Wichita area’s top cross country teams are geared up to make 2019 special.

Here are the top 10 boys and girls girls teams ahead of the fall season, as part of the Wichita Eagle and Varsity Kansas fall preview:

BOYS

1. Buhler

Buhler won a state championship last year in Class 4A and brings back all but two of its state runners, including its best. Tanner Lindahl won the individual title as a freshman in 2018, finishing at 16:18.80. Winfield’s Craig LaBrue came in runner-up 37 seconds later.

The Crusaders must replace sixth-place state finisher Rand Lohrentz, but junior Cordell Hendrickson and sophomore Hayden Keller ran in the top 17 of Class 4A last year. Sophomore Brayden Dressman and junior Colton Lohrentz will be key to Buhler’s quest to repeat.

2. Circle

The margin between first and second in the team standings was wide in Class 4A, but Circle is geared up for an assault for the top. The Thunderbirds are seeking their third boys cross country title in three years and will have outstanding odds to do it.

Circle returns all seven state qualifiers, including four seniors who finished in the top 23 last year. Emmet Keller, Eli Jacobson, Ryan Derry and Brycen Schoenhofer will provide more senior leadership than any team in the Wichita area.

3. Andover

Andover’s top four runners had an outstanding chemistry last year, all finishing in the top 32 and winning the Class 5A 4x800-meter relay in track and field. Now runners like sophomore Gabe Maki, senior William Vetter and John Hippisley will be called upon to replace graduates Asher Moen and Josh Jackson.

Junior Ryan Kinnane will be Andover’s top returner in 2019. He finished fourth at the 5A state meet last year, runner-up in AVCTL I-II and runner-up at Andover’s regional.

4. Wichita East

East won the City League for the first time since 1966 last year. It was one of the storylines of the cross country season. Now the Aces must regroup and go for it again.

East lost senior All-Metro selection Will Clayton but brings back a lot of talent in seniors Jack Walsh and Dylan Stoltzfus. Other state qualifiers like sophomore Aamer Goual-Delhamidi and junior Ronan Hallacy will be called upon to keep the magic going.

5. Bishop Carroll

Few teams have as much to replace. Carroll lost four of its top five runners from last year’s Class 5A state meet, including sixth-place finisher and All-Metro selection Jack Pate. Auggie Iseman, Matt Harding and Adam Birch are among the other departures.

Carroll failed to win the City League last year and will be motivated to get back. The Golden Eagles won their regional meet and won a trophy but came in third behind St. Thomas Aquinas and Wichita-area rival Andover.

6. Maize South

Maize South is seeking to get back into the top five again. Last year, the Mavericks finished seventh in the Class 5A team standings. They have a couple of big names to replace but are poised for another run.

Britte Magnuson, an All-Metro selection last year, is gone, but senior Trey Rios should be able to replace his production. Junior Elijah Clark, seniors Dakota Harding and Jackson Wedge will be key to bolstering the lineup.

7. Andover Central

Andover Central didn’t have a strong team finish at state, placing 10th in Class 5A. But the Jaguars return all but one state qualifying runner, including their top two — senior Kale Flores and junior Brett Schoenhoffer.

Monty Christo III was a solid senior last year, but sophomores Connor Seibel, Jack Brouilette and Noah McIntosh should bring enough production to supplement. Sophomore William Holcomb will be a key runner, too.

8. Newton

Newton qualified for state last season but has some holes to fill. The Railroaders came in 11th out of 12 teams in Class 5A.

Seniors Erik Jantz, Eli Blaufuss and Luke Schmidt will lead the way heading into 2019, looking to replace seniors like Noah Massanari and Jonah Hodge. Newton is looking to build off a third-place regional finish as well.

9. Halstead

The top of Halstead’s lineup is gone from its top-four finish from last season, but the Dragons have a lot of young talent. Halstead lost former champion Andrew O’Brien and Josh Talbott. It’s time for junior Hayden Davis and seniors Isaac Radke and Dawson Driskill to step up.

10. Berean Academy

The Warriors finished fifth in the Class 1A team standings last year and bring back their top four state finishers, including juniors Drew Janzen and Gavin Tucker, who finished in the top 30.

GIRLS

1. Eisenhower

All eyes are on St. Thomas Aquinas and St. James Academy, and Eisenhower has the talent to top them. St. James dominated the Class 5A track and field meet in the distance runs, and Aquinas has won six of the past seven titles.

Eisenhower is looking to become the first public school to win the 5A title since 2005. The Tigers finished third last year and bring back top runners like junior Kennedy Nicholson, senior Kaitlynn Hayes, sophomore Abigail Bachman and junior Jadyn Pavlik.

2. Bishop Carroll

Carroll is the last team outside of the Kansas City area to win a Class 5A girls cross country championship, coming in 2011. The Golden Eagles were one spot away last year and are eager to get back on the path to a title.

Sophomore Hope Jackson is the headliner after finishing fourth at state and winning the City League, but she isn’t alone. Junior Camille Behring, junior Cameron Pascal, sophomore Abigail Behring and junior Raimi Carroll all return.

3. Wichita East

Last fall was about Wichita East’s boys team. And 2019 could be about the girls. Last year, East finished third at its home regional meet and 10th in Class 6A at state.

Sophomore Eva McKinzie earned All-Metro honors last year after winning East’s regional meet and finishing runner-up in the City League. The Aces’ full lineup returns in 2019, including sophomore Araziah Mendoza, senior Izze Vanlandingham and senior Natalia Gonzalez, who all finished in the top 30 at the regional.

4. Maize South

Class 5A is arguably the toughest to win in 2019, but Maize South is undoubtedly a contender. The Mavericks finished sixth last year and will be much improved in 2019.

Maize South lost only one runner, Madison Schepis, from last year’s state team. The Mavericks bring back some of the top talent in the Wichita area, including junior Alexa Rios, sophomore Bella Crowell and junior Claire Dingler — all of whom finished above Schepis last year.

5. Maize

Maize fell three points shy of qualifying for state. Competing in the toughest regional in the Wichita area and perhaps all of Kansas, Maize placed fourth in the team standings — even worse, just behind crosstown rival Maize South.

Sophomore Zoie Ecord will take the charge back to state for the Eagles while seniors Annie Allenbach and Anna Reimer will provide the leadership.

6. Buhler

Buhler has a big mountain to climb to get atop Class 4A like its boys team, but the girls are on their way after finishing third at state last year.

Juniors Amaleigh Mattison and Brityn Bobo will lead the way for the Crusaders while senior Emma Willison should provide consistency in the lineup. Buhler will be looking for junior Jayla Gore, and seniors Iris Rees and Daycee DeWindt to take a jump.

7. Newton

The Railroaders finished eighth at state last year and will be excited to improve on that mark in 2019 with a lot of talent coming back.

Newton must replace last year’s seniors Alaina Stucky, Megan Bartel and Lylia Fernandez with state qualifiers like sophomore Gabby Mayes, senior Ashley Salgado and senior Emily Penner.

8. Augusta

This might not be Augusta’s year to win a state championship, but it could be coming. The Orioles sent five freshmen to state last year and finished in the top 10 of the team standings. Sophomore Porsha Zweifel is one to watch going forward.

9. Trinity Academy

Trinity finished seventh in Class 4A last year but has to replace three senior runners, including leader Claire Lieb. The Knights will lean on sophomore Lexie Scheufler and junior Jenna Elliot.

10. Remington-Whitewater

Like Augusta, Whitewater’s sophomore class could be something special in a few years. Lucy Brown is the top runner and finished 10th last year in Class 2A.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

The selection process

Preps reporter Hayden Barber selected these players based on questionnaires sent to coaches, last year’s performances and his own personal evaluation and knowledge of Wichita area high school athletics.

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