Maverick runners continue to strive for complete team competition

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Jisung Chang (front) and Samuel Martinez (Maverick 342) are 8th grade runners for Kiowa County this year on the cross country team.
Maverick Alex Redecop strides through a turn on the course at a recent cross country competition.
Audrey Bunce, second from left, runs the course at St. John as part of the Kiowa County High School cross country team.

Kiowa County High School cross country coach Lori Wade has coached many of her current athletes in track where they are distance runners. Due to COVID-19 cancellations last year and continued illness and quarantine issues this year, she has yet to put a full team on the course. It's been a year and a season of struggle, but one she has confidence her runners will overcome.

"Running is really all about mental toughness and the ability to push through pain, or circumstances," Wade said. "I have some very good young runners coming up through the middle school grades and my high schoolers are making great improvements. I really look forward to having enough of them on the course at the same time to put together some team scores."

Wade said Monday that having a full cross-country team at the high school level was often difficult as well, due to the peer pressure and draw of larger team sports like volleyball and football.

"It's a bit easier to retain the girls, but the boys often get pulled into football, where they are needed as well," she said.

This year, Wade has a strong high school girls group that features Naomi Wolfley, Micah Edris, Alex Redecop, Audry Bunce, Karlina Martinez and Emma Thompson. Unfortunately, they have not yet all been able to compete together at each meet because of untimely health issues.

"Naomi has missed two meets because of concussion protocol," Wade said. "And Alex has been quaranted for a week. She is still running on her own and requesting workouts, but she cannot train or run with the team at this time."

Wade said another one of her female runners is just now recovering from the COVID-19 illness and it has taken her some time to get her energy and running form back, but improvements are being made.

"Even though cross country is an individiual sport, we all miss our teammates when they are gone. And we count on each and every placing to make team scores," she said.

Looking to the future, Wade said she has some very gifted runners coming up through the middle school ranks. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders are able to practice and compete at cross country meets and a full contingent of Mavericks are pounding pavement and dirt this season.

"Some of the runners to watch are Jisung Chang and Samuel Martinez," Wade said. "They are very coachable, gifted runners and they like to push each other. At every meet they have placed first or second, one way or the other, so far this year."

Chang and Martinez are eight grade students this fall. Mason Weseloh is a sixth grade student that Wade said was showing great promise.

"I just hope I can hang onto these and all my junior high runners as they get older," she said. "They all have the potential to be really good."