The Greg Wilson Classic at JCCC is considered one of the most brutal races of the Lancer cross country season. The course itself is actually one of the flattest in the area, but the competition is steep. With the likes of SM Northwest and Rockhurst, two of the most consistently strong teams in the area, the Lancers faced on tough challenge on Saturday, Sept. 3, in their first competitive race.
Many of the top runners entered the race with very high expectations, and in the end fell short of their ultimate goal. The boys Varsity team ended up placing sixth out of a field of 11, falling behind the likes of Rockhurst, SM West, and Blue Springs. The first place runner for East, senior Adam Simmons, finished with a 17:25; two and half minutes behind the leader, Zach Herriott from Rockhurst. Simmons was the only East boy to slip into the top 10, and their was more than two minute separation between him and the third runner, clearly showing the team’s issue of running as a pack.
The girls team struggled as well, taking eighth place out of 10 teams, and having no runners in the top 20. However, they were much stronger when it came to running as a pack; all of them finished within a minute and half of each other. During the past week of practices, both squads have focused on their issues. In workouts, the boys are usually told their times as they lap around the track, but recently the coaches have just told the runners to stick to the guy in front of them, making them run more as a pack. The girls, who have always ran solidly as a group, are now being pushed to work more on their speed and acceleration.
The first competitive meet brought with it a couple a roster changes, as the competition for the 10 Varsity spots increased. On the boys side, senior Ian Wiseman, who was plagued by a hip injury during the time trial, made the jump from C-Team all the way to the ninth spot. Senior Matt Gannon, who placed first for East in the JV race, ended up earning the number 10 spot. For the girls, junior Anna Colby struggled and fell from number one all the way to JV, while sophomore Annie Kuklenski and senior Christa McKittrick both made jumps within the Varsity squad.
The Lancers next race, The Topeka West Invitational, is Saturday, September 9, and the competition is not quite the level of last weeks. The Lancers swept this meet last year, winning both the boys and girls Varsity and JV/C-team races. The boys JV team actually had a perfect finish taking first through fifth place. With many of these runners returning, one should expect another great run for the Lancers.