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home : sports : sports Wednesday, May 4, 2016

8/31/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Warriors hoping hard work pays off with strong fall

By Ross Eberhart
Sports editor

A summer full of extra work could lead to big things this fall for the Calamus-Wheatland boys and girls cross country teams.

The Warriors put in plenty of miles during the offseason and the result is two squads ready and raring to go for the upcoming season.

"We've had our strongest summer in years," said Cal-Wheat head coach Kevin Oberfoell, who is entering his sixth season with the teams. "There was a great turnout for our summer runs and we have been able to step up the mileage from past years because many of our athletes came into the season in great shape."

The two squads do not lack in experience either.

The girls team returns its top four finishers from the 1A regional meet, while the boys team has five runners that saw action in at least one varsity race last season.

Leading the group of returnees is junior Megan Slattery.

In her sophomore campaign, Slattery earned all-conference honors with a 10th-place finish and was 18th at a star-studded 1A district meet.

Slattery finished under 17 minutes five times with a season-best clocking of 16:37 at the Big East meet.

Giving the Warriors a strong one-two punch is another junior, Kailey Potter, who posted a season-best time of 17:25 at the Northeast Invitational and finished seventh overall at the Comet Invitational hosted by Bellevue during her sophomore season.

Junior Sierra Rodriguez was the third Warrior across the finish line at the 1A regional meet, while sophomore Dana Koester broke 20 minutes twice last season with a season-best clocking of 19:23 at the Warrior Invitational.

The quartet has a taste for the state meet too. Slattery, Potter and Koester ran legs on the Cal-Wheat 4X800 team that competed at the state track meet this spring, while Rodriguez was an alternate.

"We carried over a lot of momentum from the track season," Oberfoell said. "Megan, Kailey, Dana and Sierra have all shown great potential.

"Unfortunately, we only have four runners out (on the girls side) so we will not be able to field a full team, but there is no reason for us not to be able to improve through the year and push a runner or two through to state."

The top returnee for the Warriors' boys team is senior David Benischek.

A fixture of the lineup since his freshman season, Benischek had Cal-Wheat's top time in six of its nine races last year.

That includes a season-best time of 19:20 that Benischek ran at the Big East meet (the senior has been the Warriors' top conference finisher in each of his first three seasons). Benischek broke 20 minutes four times last season.

Sophomores Jonathan Licht and Wyatt Anians competed in a combined 15 varsity races last year. The former posted his best time during the Big East meet with the latter saving his best for the district meet.

No Warrior had a better district meet than sophomore Joe Lopez, who paced the team with a time of 20:23 - nearly four minutes better than the clocking of his varsity debut earlier in the season.

Add in senior Zach Poell, who competed in a pair of varsity meets last year and had a strong spring with the track team, along with sophomore Aaron Dierickx and newcomers Cole Moeller and Liam Ballanger, and the Warrior boys have plenty of optimism heading into the fall.

"I'm excited to see our boys run together as a team," Oberfoell said. "On any given meet, there could really be three to four guys that could be our first runner. It should be interesting to see who steps up out of that group.

"Our biggest strength as a team is our camaraderie," Oberfoell added. "Both the guys and girls work well together and get along great - they come to practice excited and ready to work which makes my job fun and enjoyable."

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