Bohnemann, Clarke claim top honors

It was a prep cross country season that was befitting of calling it one of mystery.

In both the boys’ and girls’ ranks, there were so many subplots and challenges to each team’s seasonal hopes to be considered a night-time soap opera.

Maybe that’s why Leavenworth High junior Danny Bohnemann and Lansing junior Alanah Clarke have been selected the Leavenworth Times’ 2017 Select Boy and Girl runners of the year.

Bohnemann, who repeats in the role, led a young Pioneer team that also had to battle with Lansing’s young team to earn area top honors as both squads look built for the long haul.

As for Clarke? It could have easily been a title she could have relinquished to Chloe Manner or Quincy May, but when you have to unexpectedly step up to replace one of the best runners in recent memory and are able to lead a team and win a regional? 

That’s tough stuff.

For Clarke, her Class 5A state run didn’t go as well as her regional title run, but to do what she did all season after Jaci Huckabee was felled by injury and had to battle back to get back on the track and contribute, her classmate had to take the reins.

“My season went pretty well this year especially compared to last year just because I feel like I came into the season in much better shape than I usually do,” Clarke said. “A high point for me was probably just being with the team and practicing with them because they really help to motivate me and they help me to get better. 

“I wish I could've done a little bit better at state but at the same time I'm still somewhat satisfied with how I did and despite us not winning a team state title I still consider the Lansing Lions girls cross country team one of the best. I have nothing but high hopes for the future and I hope that I'll eventually be able to run in the low 19s which is going to take a lot of work.”

Even as she was leading the team, Clarke enjoyed having Huckabee around to be a part of the process and help the Lions move forward.

“Jaci is one of the best runners that we have on the team and she's been injured almost the entire season,” Clarke said. “It just made me want to try harder to help my team and she really motivated me to keep working hard because despite her injuries she showed up to practice every day and tried her hardest to not only get better for herself but also for the team. 

“It just made me realize that not only myself but everyone else on the team should put forth just as much effort to try and make ourselves better.”

Lansing head coach Brian Malm appreciated all of Clarke’s efforts.

“Alanah had a great summer to put herself in a position to be successful this year,” Malm said. “She had just come off of a great all-state performance in track and was excited to have a great summer. This was evident from her first race in the fall. She has filled in nicely in the No. 1 spot as Jaci was recovering from injury. She has become a very tactical runner, as was evident in her regional championship performance.   

“While she didn’t have the state race she wanted, she has reflected on the race and moved on to prepare for her senior campaign. Alanah has a number of opportunities to run in college and we are excited to see where she will land next fall.”

Bohnemann won the Sunflower League crown in the school’s final year in the league and then added a ninth-place run at the Class 5A state finals to give fans a tantalizing look at what could be in his final year next fall.

“The season went very well for me and my team,” Bohnemann said. “I ran a new personal best of 16:06 at the state meet, which is 23 seconds faster than my best time last year. Almost every other runner on our team also ran personal best this year. Our team really came together for the regional meet and we ended up winning  our third straight regional title. We also excelled at the state meet as a team where six of our seven runners ran a new season best.

“I finally felt like everything was clicking and all of the work I put in during the offseason was finally showing. I won the Sunflower league title coming from behind in the last seconds.

“I wish I could have run faster at some of the flatter and faster courses that we had during the middle of the season. I tried to get an even faster PR than I have now.”

Bohnemann is looking forward to the offseason and where training can take him and his teammates as they prepare for the spring track campaign.

“My goals for track season this year are to work on decreasing my times and to get some new PRs,” he said. “I also hope to have a good ending to my time in the Sunflower League and hope to win a medal in that meet. My biggest goal is to be able to get a medal at the state meet this year.”

He has done well enough already this year that head coach Willis Willmeth can only look forward to even more.

“Danny has been one of the hardest working kids that I have had here at Leavenworth High School,” Willmeth said. “He strives every day to get better in what he does. He excels in the classroom as well as the athletic field. He is a pleasure to coach and work with. I know that he would like to run at the next level and I believe that he has the work ethic and the talent to be a success. Danny has been a great silent leader and really leads by his excellent attitude and great work attitude.”

THE SELECT

Boys

Dayton Flack, senior, Pleasant Ridge: What a way to go for Flack, who had a very good season for his swan song, qualifying for state for a fourth consecutive year.

Tanner Hendrix, senior, Leavenworth: He wrapped up a solid career by helping the Pioneers to a strong state finish as he played a big role as a leader of the team.

Liam Neidig, sophomore, Lansing: The Lion toted a season-best run of 16:46 and could be a serious Class 5A threat in the next two years.

Luke Oatney, senior, Pleasant Ridge: He wrapped an amazing career for the Rams by finishing eighth at the Class 3A state finals. He was a four-time state medalist which is a huge accomplishment at any level according to Malm. “He has been the number one runner on our boys’ team the last four years,” PRHS head coach Chad Hendrix said. “He has led them to four straight league titles and three trips to state.”

Sam Overbey, junior, Leavenworth: He finished with a season-best time of 16:48 and was a key second runner for the Pioneers all season.

Terry Robinson, sophomore, Lansing: He was another member of a young crew. Robinson adds a Kaw Valley League title to his blossoming resume.

Girls

Grace Dedeke, senior, Pleasant Ridge: She led the Rams and finished 10th at the NEK meet while being the team’s No. 1 runner all year. “She battled injuries but was able to continue through all of these issues to run some tough races,” Hendrix said.

Jaci Huckabee, senior, Lansing: Last year’s Select girls’ top runner, Huckabee’s final season was beset by injuries, but that didn’t stop her from being a solid role model for the Lions as she capped a strong career. “Has the best career of any girl in Leavenworth County,” Malm said. “She has had an injured senior year. That doesn't account for her body of work.”

Chloe Manner, sophomore, Leavenworth: Took second at the regional meet and led a young team for most of the season, finishing a team-high 32nd at the state meet.

Quincy May, sophomore, Basehor-Linwood: A bright future is in store for May who took 21st at the Class 4A meet.

Rylea Oliver, senior, Basehor-Linwood: She had a strong 2017 season that wrapped with a 39th-place run at the Class 4A state finals.

Maddy Walter Sherrits, sophomore, Leavenworth: She was a state qualifier and took eighth at the regional meet.

Sarah Wagner, junior, Leavenworth: She ended up 10th at regionals and had a strong bounce back season following an injury-riddled one in 2016. “I like Sarah a lot,” Willmeth said. “She was not able to run at all last year, and we thought we were going to lose her this year to a foot injury. But she hung in there and each week got better and better. Had she been at full strength who knows where she would be.”