By William for

LINDSBORG – With both the boys and girls Smoky Valley cross country teams finishing in the top-10 at the state meet in 2021, the Vikings harriers look for a repeat again in 2022.

The Viking boys loose three seniors from a team that placed third at the state meet last fall while the Lady Vikings placed seventh overall at state while only losing one senior from that team. This fall the Viking boys will look to win their third straight league championship as well.

Both the Viking boys with Tytus Reed and the Lady Vikings with Gracie Lambert brought home Central Kansas League Conference titles in 2021 as well. Reed returns in 2022 for his senior season while Lambert has graduated and is running cross country for Hutchinson Community College.

Among the returning Viking boys will be five who earned varsity letters in 2021 including Brayden Eyer, Samuel Peterson, Sebastian Pavlovich, Tytus Reed and Britton Becker, while the Lady Vikings will have six who earned enough time on varsity to earn a letter. Returning letter winners for the Lady Vikings will be Adrien Lochard, Esther Clark, Keira Mullen, Kenzie Heline, Olivia Bengtson and Sophia Fruits.

One thing new for the 2022 season will be the coach as Zack Vogel takes the reigns at Smoky Valley, bringing with him eight seasons of coaching track and cross country at Barton County Community College as well as both Columbus and Lyons High Schools.

“I’m excited to start my first year as head coach for Smoky Valley Cross Country,” noted Vogel during his pre-season reflections. “The Vikings had a big year last season but lost three Viking boys and one Lady Viking to graduation so there will be several open spots to compete for on the varsity level. We already have had a lot of runners step up and work hard this summer so competition should be strong.”

The Viking harriers will open the 2022 season at home with a meet on Thursday, September 1.

Concluding his pre-season reflections, Coach Vogel added one direct line by saying, “Our goal this season is to return to the state meet with both teams and again earn a spot on the podium.”

2022 Smoky Valley Cross Country Schedule:

  • Thursday, September 1 = home meet
  • Thursday, September 8 = at Hesston
  • Thursday, September 15 = at Clay Center
  • Tuesday, September 20 = at Southeast of Saline
  • Thursday, September 29 = at Halstead
  • Tuesday, October 4 = at Ellsworth
  • Thursday, October 13 = Host Central Kansas League Meet
  • Saturday, October 22 = Regionals
  • Saturday, October 29 = State Meet at Rim Rock

Lady Viking 2022 Cross Country Roster:

  • Seniors (3) – Taylor Helton, Olivia Bengtson, and Adrien Lochard.
  • Juniors (2) – Kenzie Heline, and Keira Mullen.
  • Sophomores (2) – Esther Clark, and Sophia Fruits.
  • Freshman (4) – Kaitlyn Leis, Emma Hauk, Mila Sims, and Gracia Peterson.

Viking Boys 2022 Cross Country Roster:

  • Seniors (2) – Wyatt Johnson and Tytus Reed.
  • Juniors (4) – Brayden Eyer, Immanuel Cooper, Sebastian Pavlovich, and Samuel Peterson.
  • Sophomores (2) – Britton Becker, and Eli Spooner.
  • Freshman (7) – Parker Gardner, Isaac Gonzalez, Braylon Olson, Atticus Pavlovich, Kaden Bishop, Colter Patrick, and Chandler Reed.