The Mustang Broncos have qualified for the state championship meet 26 years in a row, yet going into the 2022 season, the team’s expectations have been elevated.
“My goals are always higher than just qualifying,” coach Greg Osborne said. “We want to compete and make noise.”
The Broncos have the experience to take a leap this season, returning four of seven racers from the 2021 Class 6A state meet. Osborne wants to see each improve in more ways than one.
“They have a lot of potential,” he said. “We want to not only see them step into leadership roles, but we want to see them reach that next level physically. Last year we had a lot of time between each runner. I’m interested to see how much we close those gaps this season.”
Senior Katie Jones paced the Broncos at state in 2021, finishing 42nd overall with a time of 20:27.72. Osborne expects Jones to come in as the team’s top runner once again in 2022.
“She’s a really hard worker,” he said. “There’s a family dynamic there with all her siblings coming through and they were all hard workers as well. We expect her to step into a big leadership role and to see her lead by example and hold the other girls accountable.”
After losing the team’s No. 2 runner from last season to graduation, Osborne is excited to see junior Carol Le move into that spot. She finished 71st at state last year with a time of 21:25.97.
“We’ve seen a lot of improvement from Carol,” Osborne said. “We expect her to be right there with Katie (Jones) this season. She has been working hard from track season through the summer. She’s also stepping into a nice leadership role and has been getting girls together all offseason to run.”
Sophomore Londyn Medrano and senior Emily Krafft are also expected to take a step in 2022. Medrano placed 89th at state a year ago with a time of 23:01.41 while Krafft placed 92nd with a time of 23:13.43.
“Londyn has a lot of potential being just a sophomore,” Osborne said. “She is still learning how to run a 5K, which a lot of time is more mental than physical for young runners. They have to experience it and sometimes that can take two or three years.
“We expect big improvement from Emily as well. We wouldn’t be surprised to see her move way up with how hard she has worked. She’s another girl who has already stepped up as a leader and helps create a fun and enjoyable atmosphere for the team.”
Osborne says there could be another handful of runners that will compete for varsity spots throughout the season. He also wants to see the returners running together.
“That’s one of our priorities this season,” he said. “We’re wanting to get our No. 1, 2, and 3 girls closer and have more than just one girl near the front of the pack. We need to be running as a group.”
This year isn’t just about reaching the state meet. The Broncos want to build off what they’ve already accomplished and put their experience to work. There is plenty to be excited about.
“Last year was 26-straight but finishing 14th out of 14 teams isn’t where you want to be,” Osborne said. “This group has the chance to make a big improvement on that. Like I said, the potential is there. We just have to tap into it.”