Youthful Bulldogs squad prep for new cross country season

Kearney's Jillian Vaughn sprints to the finish during her state race as a freshmen in Jefferson City. Vaughn is now a junior and will look to provide leadership to a young squad this fall.

KEARNEY — Longtime Kearney cross country coach Jeff Roberts is working with a youthful Bulldogs squad in 2019.

After Kearney lost five varsity runners — three boys, two girls — and all of their state qualifiers from last year’s teams, he knew that he’d be working with some inexperience this fall.

But Roberts, who's been in charge of the program for 38 years, is excited about this group.

“We have a lot of kids out this year and we’re trying to increase the miles every day,” he said. “You can’t compete at the level that we’re at in Class 4 unless we get our mileage up.”

Kearney’s boys are working to fill the void left by Mason Marshall and Jacob Ewer, who placed 51st and 81st, respectively, at state last season as seniors.

Senior Tyler Pedee assumes the role of top runner. Pedee, an all-conference performer last year, is followed by senior Cameron Smith and junior Jacob Wootton.

“We have a couple other kids running well, we just have to keep pushing it every week,” Roberts said.

A pair of freshmen in Abby Elam and Isabella Donze are poised to act as the top-2 runners for Kearney’s girls team, Roberts said. Sophomore Julianne Vaughn is lined up as the Bulldogs’ No. 3 runner.

“We have two freshmen leading the pack,” Roberts said. “I really think all three of these girls before conference will be in the 20s. They know it’s going to be hard work but they understand it. They’re going to do great things for us.”

Junior Aggie Edwards and sophomore Chloe Bonham are expected to contribute in points, Roberts said.

The Bulldogs are set to open the season in the Tim Nixon Invitational Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Wildflower Cross Country Course near Liberty North.

Sports Editor Adam Burns can be reached at adam.burns@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6643.​

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