The Goessel cross country runners will look to qualify both teams for state competition this season, led by fourth-year coach Brian Lightner.
The Bluebird girls won the Class 1A state title a year ago to cap a season that also included the Wheat State League title and a second-place team finish at the Wichita-East Class regional.
Two of Goessel’s top-five runners return from the state champion team.
“Seniors Julia Nightengale and Maddy Meier will lace it up in an attempt to qualify for state all four years of high school,” Lightner said. “Junior Edel Miller is one of the most consistent runners on the team, and sophomores Elyse Boden and Porclein Unruh round out the returners from the state team.”
While Goessel will be without top state finisher Jennifer Meysing, Nightengale returns as the Bluebirds’ second state placer in 18th place.
“We hope to successfully defend our league title and earn a fifth straight trip to the state meet,” Lightner said.
Meanwhile, the Goessel boys enter 2017 after a fourth-place finish in the league and a fifth-place finish at regionals. Goessel finished six points shy of qualifying for state.
The Bluebirds have no seniors on the roster, but junior Nate Impson returns and will be expected to provide leadership as the only runner with state experience. Sophomores Brody Schroeder and Zack Guerrero also return.
“Both boys improved significantly throughout their first year of cross country, ” Lightner said. Newcomers include one sophomore four freshmen.
“This will be the largest boys’ team Goessel has had in a while,” Lightner said.
The Bluebirds will start the season at the Pretty Prairie Invitational at 5 p.m. Thursday.