If head coach Willis Willmeth had to describe the 2018 Leavenworth cross country season briefly, he said it would be a season of ups and downs.
“This was a season of ups and downs,” Willmeth said. “Not only were we a small team, but we had a lot of kids who were hurt off and on all season.”
The Pioneers struggled with the injury bug all season. Willmeth said all of the seniors were injured in some way or another all season.
He said the runners being healthy would have made a huge difference in the outcome of the season.
“I think it would have made all of the difference in the world,” Willmeth said. “I feel both teams would have made it to the state meet, or we would have had more individuals make it.”
Instead, the injuries happened and it took the Pioneers longer to reach their stride. The team would take third in both boys and girls at the conference meet, which the coach said was probably the team’s best meet all season. In regionals, two Pioneers were able to qualify for state. Seniors Sarah Wagner and Danny Bohnemann punched their ticket to Rim Rock in Lawrence for the 6A state meet. Wagner would finish 41st and Bohnemann placed 31st. Willmeth said he was proud of the runners and proud to be their coach.
Wagner and Bohnemann were two of the eight seniors on this year’s team. The others were Sam Overbey, John Finnigan, Dustin Lopez, Sean Markert, Lorissa Bailey and Gabby Victor.
Willmeth said the girls should be a strong team next year and the boys will have a rebuilding season.
“But I think that we will be OK,” Willmeth said.
Willmeth was asked to pick a most improved runner, which he said was hard due to the number of injuries.
“That is tough as we had so many kids hurt on the season,” Willmeth said. “One newcomer who stands out would be Katelyn Havner. First year in cross country and she made a great improvement as the year went on.”
Willmeth said the thing he will remember most was just watching the runners each week.
“You never know who was going to step up and be the leader,” Willmeth said.