Pioneers built on youth/Athlete profile on Chloe Manner

The Leavenworth High cross country program has seen solid and consistent results for many years now.

Part of it stems from just having a lot of talent on hand and other aspects include a realistic assembly line of runners, young and old able to produce big-time results.

Heading into the summer, the Pioneer boys and girls hit the roads and hills to prepare for the upcoming campaign behind a plethora of youth that seem to have taken hold of the program, dominated by underclassmen.

Boy, are they good too.

Pioneer assistant coach Rob Marriott said the team was running around 50-60 miles a week during the dead heat of summer hoping to up that workload to 70 by the end of the preseason.

The boys’ team has been led by a young core that has matured and expects to do even bigger things than in the recent past while shaking off some disappointments from the spring.

“There are only two seniors, but expectations are high, we return our top three guys and we are looking at bringing home a state plaque, something we haven’t done yet,” senior Tanner Hendrix said. “We are still putting in more mileage than ever. We are racking up the mileage, ramping up the speed and really attacking it this summer. This might be one our last chances for the team to do something for a while. We have a lot of motivation behind us. At state track this past year, we didn’t exactly live up to expectations (in long distance). We are looking back and actually doing what we thought we would. Everyone could have picked up on points a little bit, except sprinters – they were the team that did their job. We were hoping for points in the 4x800, the mile, the two-mile and the 800. We didn’t get it.

“If everyone could have run to the best of their ability we could have taken second (they finished third) or even taken first.”

Sure, the disappointment stinks for the boys’ team, but instead of letting it bring them to far down, they have decided to make it a point of motivation.

“My mindset has always been: We were that good, now we have to be better,” Hendrix said. “We have to build on what we have done.”

The girls are also led by a number of young and talented runners which makes a junior warrior like Sarah Wagner a veteran on this team. Wagner had to witness last year’s events due to sitting out the season with an injury.

“We have a lot of new freshmen and so we are trying to build a team,” Wagner said. “We have two upperclassmen and two sophomores coming back. We just want to put in the miles and do the work and get the result from it. The (young runners) are doing great and have a lot of talent in them. With more miles we log, we will get closer and be more of a family and that will only help us on the course.

“We got better (from cross country to track). We did lose some kids during the cross country season to soccer, but we did get better and we did get faster.”

The workouts? They are brutal. These athletes put in the time and toil for a sport that is unforgiving. So the question is why?

“I think some of us have our own motivations to do this,” Hendrix said. “Mine for the upcoming season is that my dad (David) just passed away. I promised him a state medal and the team promised him another plaque. The team isn’t just running for ourselves, our family, our school, our city, we are also running for the ones who can’t be here.”

“The relationships that we form during running are really big,” Wagner said. “The gun goes off and you just start running. The people around you push you, and if you are close as a team, you will push each other harder. Even when you think you can’t go any further – your lungs are burning, your legs hurt – it’s the people that around that make you go ‘OK, I can do this.’ We are all in the same position, we are all hurting, we all know how it feels. You will go up to somebody you don’t even know and be like ‘good job’ because you did that together. It hurt, but you did it and got through it.

“You are miserable (running cross country), so it’s a mental concept. If I can get through the pain and get through something I may not even think I can do? It makes you a better person. It makes you grow as a person. Mainly for me it’s improving who I am as a person.”

It’s all about having the right mindset.

“Coach Marriott has always drilled into us: The weather is always perfect, the conditions are always perfect, what you are going through is perfect,” Hendrix said. “It’s the positive outlook that keeps you going. I know every other guy out there is going through hell with me, but at the same time we are doing it with each other.”

Athlete Profile: Chloe Manner - Running strong on her terms

Chloe Manner sure went from the ‘Who’s that girl?’ to the “Oh my gosh, it’s that girl” status in quick time during the recently completed prep sports campaign.

The sophomore Manner started off with a decent cross country season that saw her grow and grow until finally breaking out with some fine performances in both the one and two-mile runs during the track season which included a regional title.

She finished 10th in the mile run at the Class 5A state finals.

Manner’s slow start in cross country could be attributed to her family’s move back to the area from Germany over the summer as they came back home to Leavenworth where they had lived for a number of years before.

“I didn’t go to the summer workouts,” Manner said. “I was there at the start of the school year and it was a little bit harder to get into it and run with everyone. After a few weeks it did get easier to do so.”

Leavenworth High assistant head coach Rob Marriott saw Manner figure things out as she battled along.

“She started acclimating to the miles and by the end of the summer was (a contributor),” Marriott said. “Then after cross country, the girls ran a lot more than they ever have in the offseason. We hit track and then to the surprise of Chloe – not the coaches – she really started to shine in the 3,200- and 1,600-meter and kept getting better and better.

“(The coaches) knew who she was, we were waiting on it to happen. I didn’t know she was going to run an 11:58 (in two-mile) that was an added bonus there. She medaled at Sunflower League track and that’s big time.”

Manner didn’t run in Germany, despite the landscape to work on her craft, mostly due to the way the physical education was doled out to students and her love of hockey.

“I am the only American and they speak English a little bit, but I am all alone and you can’t really shake that,” Manner said. “I used to run with my dad all the time, but he had to go to Egypt for about a year.“

She admits it was a slow start upon her return to Leavenworth.

“It was difficult getting back into it and I wanted to give up, but I knew it couldn’t,” Manner said. “I just had to push myself to what I am today. I play ice hockey, so it wasn’t like I wasn’t doing any sport. It was endurance that was a big thing, because I basically lost all of that. To go from doing nothing to getting back into it? It’s hard.

“I can’t imagine not running. I knew when I got back to America that I would run in high school. I just had to.

“Toward track season I started realizing my times were good. At first, I didn’t start running in the two-mile until about a week or two into the season. I love the two-mile, I love long races and putting in miles. I felt it was my race.”

Her goal for cross country, he goal is to have her time in the 20s and she feels like she can make a move up the state rankings.

While she takes a break from running, Manner plays in local club hockey leagues in the metro area.

“It’s not as competitive as Germany, it’s pretty ruthless there,” Manner said. “I have been playing hockey since I was 8. I’d love to play it in college. Kansas City isn’t a big place to play hockey.

“I also read a lot. … I’ve always read. I like that feeling of going somewhere in a book, it puts me at ease. I watch a lot of TV too. I am watching ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ I love it. I have been catching up. I also like ‘Orange is the New Black.’ The new season is a little crazy.”