Seniors entering their final cross country season include, front from left, Giovanna Welsh, Nikki Brown-Cravey, Kaley Hauxwell, Kayla Schilke, back, Will Kuenne, Noah Griffin, Francisco Barrientos and Jayden German. (Johnson Publications photo)
Cross country teams open season at Cambridge Friday
Chase County’s cross country teams will open their season Friday when they travel to the Cambridge Invitational.
Head Coach Carl Zuege said he’s excited not only for the first meet but for the season as well.
He said the kids have put in the miles over the summer and come into the season in shape and ready to go.
The running put in over the summer lays the foundation for a successful season, he noted.
Participation in cross country continues to grow. This year, Zuege has 14 girls and nine boys on the high school team and 17 more on the junior high team.
Zuege said the Cambridge meet is a good meet to open the season, noting it’s always a competitive meet. A total of 11 teams are invited to this year’s meet.
Girls won four of seven meets
On the girls’ side, the Longhorns will seek to repeat Friday after winning the Cambridge meet last year.
That win last year really set the tone for the team, winning four of their seven meets.
Zuege brings back the nucleus of last year’s team, led by senior and state qualifier Kaley Hauxwell.
She’s joined by seniors Kayla Schilke, Giovanna Welsh, Nikki Brown-Cravey and Amber Stumpf.
Other returners include juniors Macey Coleman and Brooke Schilke and sophomore Brooklyn Christensen.
New faces on this year’s team include sophomore Maddi Brown and freshmen Hannah Meeske, Kambre Meeske, Halle Fiedler, Lyndsey Mendenhall and Heather Stumpf.
Brown comes off a strong track season last spring and will run at the varsity level this season.
The real unknowns at this point are freshmen. Zuege said they have been running well and will get some valuable experience this year.
The six expected to run varsity Friday include Hauxwell, K. Schilke, B. Schilke, Coleman, Christensen and Brown.
Experience on boys’ team
Zuege returns all of his varsity runners from last year along with some new faces this season.
Senior Will Kuenne returns as the lone qualifier for the state cross country meet last year.
Other seniors include Jayden German, Francisco Barrientos and Noah Griffin, who is new to the sport this season.
They will be joined by juniors Kalen Wallin, Landis Beverly, Trevin Martin and Orrin Richardson.
Freshmen Mason Nordhausen rounds out the team.
Zuege said his team comes off a strong track season last spring and has put in the miles this summer.
He looks for Kuenne and Barrientos to be among the top runners in meets this season, with a strong supporting cast behind them.
He said Nordhausen could challenge for a varsity spot as the season continues.
The Longhorns finished second to Dundy County at last year’s Cambridge meet. Zuege expects the two teams to battle it out again Friday.
Three races Friday
Friday’s meet is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. at Cambridge Cross Creek Links golf course.
The meet kicks off with the girls’ race, followed by a one-mile junior high race with the boys’ race wrapping up the meet.