SM East boys XC team earns first state berth in 12 years; SM North boys headed to Rim Rock as well

SM East's boys cross country team's training together over the summer paid off, said coach Tricia Beaham.
SM East’s boys cross country team’s training together over the summer paid off, said coach Tricia Beaham. Photo courtesy SM East cross country team.

SM East’s boys cross country team on Saturday accomplished a feat not seen at the school in a dozen years: earning a team berth to the state meet.

SM East’s runners secured second place overall at the Regional meet held at Shawnee Mission Park, led by the fleet-footed John Arnspiger, who took second overall. Jack Young and Lance Meng also had top ten individual performances for the Lancers, finishing sixth and eighth respectively.

Lancers cross country head coach Tricia Beaham credited a shift in the boys squads’ training regimen a few years ago with getting the program to the point where it could compete at the state level again. A 2009 SM East graduate named Jay Lehoczky had encourage his teammates to start training together over the summer in a more organized way than they had before. The cultural shift Lehoczky started bore fruit for this year’s squad.

“They realized that summer either makes or breaks a cross country team,” she said. “From the moment last year’s season ended, you could tell these guys were going to work hard together to get here. There was a lot of group cohesion.”

SM North earned a team trip to the state meet at Rim Rock next week as well with a third place finish Saturday. Indians runners Forest Kinsey and Joe Roubinek finished fifth and tenth overall in the individual standings.

While neither SM East’s nor SM North’s girls teams qualified for a state berth, both had individual runners make the state cut. Samantha Taylor, Molly Ryan and Emily Stava will run for SM North next Saturday, and Maddie Willson and Theresa McAlister will represent SM East.

Lawrence Free State finished first overall at the regional. The state meet is this Friday at Rim Rock in Lawrence. The boys race starts at 10:30 a.m. and the girls race starts at noon.