Cross country team shapes up for success

The girls and boys cross country teams work at setting up a good season, with the hopes of an EKL title.

Senior Sam Guinn practices near the beginning of the cross country season. Guinn, Seamus Koch and Hannah Holbert will run at the state meet Saturday at KU Rimrock Farm.

Last year, the girl’s cross country team placed ninth overall at State, and according to head coach Matt LeCount, the boy’s team was the fastest Northwest has had to date. LeCount hopes to build on the team’s success for the current season, and expects to do even better than last season.

LeCount said the team has changed since last year with a few seniors leaving, however he said there are some promising freshmen, as well as JV athletes that have worked hard and improved significantly.

“Based on workouts, summer conditioning [and] where I feel like the kids are at in comparison to last year, my expectations are a little higher,” LeCount said. “We definitely had a few seniors to replace, and we’ll see how the younger girls step up and do that…but I’ll be anxious to see how they develop, and the toughness that they show in races.”

Sophomore Andrew Kastendick, who was at the top of JV last year, said he would like to improve his times enough to make varsity this year.

“What I am most looking forward to this season is running varsity, if I can do that…I’ve never run a varsity meet. Time wise, I want to run a 5k [below 18 minutes],” Kastendick said.

Kastendick believes the team’s biggest strength is that, for the most part, they are laid back and they do not take things too seriously. This allows them to bond more and form a stronger team.

“We enjoy each other…I feel like when we’re more laid back, we [get along] better as a team, and we can lay low and have some fun,” Kastendick said.

While the team is close and works well together, Kastendick said their casualness can also be a weakness because they do not take practices seriously enough.

According to LeCount, the team is coming in this season with a better base than last year, because of athletes’ hard work at summer practices. He noted that the varsity girls are in a stronger place than they were at the beginning of last season.

“When you start a season with a better base…[the athletes] can get a little more out of their workouts,” LeCount said. “They can hopefully show a little more improvement this year.”

Senior Jack George said the team needs to work on taking things more seriously this season. He said the team is sometimes too relaxed, and that is one of their weaknesses.

“We mess around too much… we don’t take our training seriously, and that hurts our times,” George said.

With both the girl’s and guy’s teams being second in the league last year, LeCount hopes to see one of the teams win an EKL title this year.

“I think it’s within grabs. I don’t feel like that’s a goal that will be out of reach this season; I’ll just be anxious to see what the other teams are doing,” LeCount said.