Cross country: Southeast boys are looking to end long drought
Rob Maddux has tried to look, but it’s been so long since the Southeast boys cross country team has been to the state meet, he can’t find the exact year.
He’s gone back as far as the early 1990s and still can’t find confirmation. But he knows the date was well before any of these current Buffaloes, the runners who have the team poised for a state berth, were born.
In fact, Southeast’s resurgence doesn’t have the team just talking about a berth — the boys think they can win the Class 6A regional hosted by East this Saturday at Cessna Activity Center. The girls race at 3 p.m. with the boys following 30 minutes later.
“It’s just been unbelievable,” Maddux said. “It’s something completely new for our boys team, but they’ve handled it really well. We think they’ve got a great chance to be running in Lawrence (for state), and it couldn’t happen to a nicer group of kids.”
Southeast is anchored by senior Jeffrey Masood, who finished third at the City League meet. His times make him a favorite to win the race on Saturday and he has aspirations of breaking the 16-minute barrier.
But the difference this season has been the runners behind him — senior Keriontae Jones, junior Chris Shay, sophomore Matthew Torres and senior David Janasek. All four have broken 17:40 in a race this season.
“This is a tighter group of guys than we’ve ever had,” Maddux said. “They all truly want each other to do well and we’ve never had a No. 4 and No. 5 runner like Matthew and David. When you’re fifth guy comes through in 17:39, that’s pretty nice to have.”
One race, one day — In some ways, this Eisenhower girls team has been the best coach Jeff Taylor has had in his three-year tenure at the school.
But there’s no doubt it has been the most frustrating season, as the Tigers have been hit hard by injuries and illnesses. There hasn’t been a race all season that Eisenhower has had full health for its top five runners, Taylor said.
Seniors Jaclyn Means, Caitlyn Hollinger, and Dani Castilleja paired with sophomores Sierra Broce and Brynn Suddeth and freshman Katherine Berner makes for a state-worthy team, Taylor said.
While not completely healthy, the Tigers will attempt to qualify for the Class 5A state race this Saturday at the Bishop Carroll regional at Lake Afton. The girls race at 2:30 p.m. with the boys following an hour later.
“There’s so much potential here with this group,” Taylor said. “It gets really frustrating, but I sit there and watch in practice how hard these girls work. If we can ever put a race together with everyone running well, then we’re going to be a dangerous team.”
A third still possible — Injuries have also hurt South boys team, not allowing them to reach the potential coach Betsey Goering saw at the start of the season.
But their ultimate goal, qualifying for state for a third straight season, is still possible this Saturday at the East regional.
While Southeast and Campus seem likely for two of the team berths, the third is up in the air between Derby, South, Garden City, East, and Dodge City.
“The kids are excited and we really do think we have a shot,” Goering said. “If we run our best races, it’s definitely doable. The kids remember being there from the last two years and they have their same habits and good luck charms and they’re going out there expecting to achieve their goal.”
The Titans have been led by Tony Matsui, Ismael Ramirez, Toby VanCleave, Eduardo Ramirez, and Ryan Loesing this season.