Holding tryouts could result in ‘trophy team’ for Lindbergh girls’ cross country program

Lindbergh runners planning to go the distance this year.

Conducting tryouts this year has resulted in the Lindbergh High girls' cross country team boasting the cream of the crop of district runners. Bill Milligan photo

Conducting tryouts this year has resulted in the Lindbergh High girls' cross country team boasting the cream of the crop of district runners. Bill Milligan photo

By BILL MILLIGAN

Lindbergh High School conducted tryouts this year for perhaps the first time ever for its girls’ cross country team.

The result may be what co-head coach Jim Wilder has waited for since taking over the program a decade ago — a trophy team.

“We were hoping last year was it,” Wilder said. “Holding tryouts in effect took away the girls who were there for social reasons — the bottom 12 or 13 kids just didn’t try out.”

Those who did try out, Wilder said, are more “hard core.”

“They’re out here working harder,” he said, “We’ve got the crew right now — three sophomores, one freshman. If they mature this year, we have a trophy team. If not this year, then next year.”

At the end of last season Lindbergh was caught in the middle of the pack of sectional qualifiers. Six points separated the sixth- through 10th-place finishers.

“I don’t know where we finished,” Wilder said.

“Seventh place, coach,” said a runner who overheard his conversation.

“It was a nice race, but we weren’t looking for nice,” Wilder continued. “Eureka, Kirkwood, Nerinx Hall, Lee’s Summit, they’re all in contention, but we’ve got the crew right now.’

Lindsay Gantner will lead the Flyers along with freshmen Hanna Haegele and Sarah McCay. McCay was a member of the 4×800 team that won a state championship last spring, as was Mel Paridy.

“Our one through 15 runners could be on any varsity team. They’re all under six in the mile. The tradition has been building around here every year. They’re all working hard,” Wilder said.