CONESTOGA – Conestoga has provided a large buffet of extracurricular activities for students to choose from during the district’s history.
Teenagers will be able to select two new meals of competition beginning this school year.
Conestoga will sponsor girls and boys cross country programs in the fall sports season. The school has set up a full schedule of events for the teams to compete in, and both programs have started a website at www.conestogaxc.com. Head cross country coach Sean Trampe said the Cougars are looking forward to running at cross country meets this fall.
“I believe we have a handful of kids who are very excited for this new opportunity to compete in cross country for Conestoga,” Trampe said. “Since we have not had a cross country program in many years there is an air of uncertainty around the program, and I think that can make it difficult for students to commit to being a part of the team.
“Fortunately, we are working to give students as many opportunities to train and compete together over the summer that we can, and my hope is that we can develop a buzz around the team, and school, that lets people recognize how much fun and rewarding this sport can be.”
Trampe said the topic of adding cross country to Conestoga’s sports lineup had been discussed several times in the past few years. The idea gained a large amount of traction earlier this spring at a schoolwide activities fair sponsored by the CHS Student Council. Members of current and potential Conestoga activities set up booths in the high school gym and gauged students’ interest in their programs. More than 40 teenagers signed their names to a list indicating they would consider running cross country if teams were available this fall.
“We had an overwhelming amount of support for starting a program, and our administration took notice of the students’ feedback,” Trampe said. “Both outgoing Activities Director Jeremy Schroeder and incoming A.D. Jason Ahrens have been very supportive in helping get this off the ground, as have our high school principal Dave Friedli and superintendent Beth Johnsen.
“Additionally, our school board has set an ambitious goal of achieving 100 percent participation in at least one school activity among our student body, and this gives our students one more option to pursue.”
Although the girls and boys teams will be new additions to this year’s list of activities, Conestoga runners have earned cross country honors in previous seasons. Several CHS students participated in co-op cross country programs with Plattsmouth more than a decade ago.
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Conestoga alum Anna Neu ran at the state meet four times as a member of the Blue Devils. She earned state medals in both 2001 (15th place) and 2003 (11th place), and she finished in the top 30 in both 2000 (28th place) and 2002 (21st place).
Cassie Sherlock ran at state for Plattsmouth in both 2001 and 2003, and Jill Myrtue earned letters for the program in both 2000 and 2001. Rachel Sievering secured two letters during her career from 2003-05, and John Sherlock competed for the co-op program in 2001.
Trampe said the 2018 Cougars will have a variety of possibilities for training locations this fall. The first official practice will take place Aug. 6.
“As far as our practices go, we are very fortunate to have such a spacious campus at Conestoga,” Trampe said. “We will be able to take advantage of our school grounds and track facility for practice throughout the season. In addition, we will transport athletes into Murray and Beaver Lake to run, as well as complete road runs on the county roads near our campus.”
Conestoga has finished most of its cross country schedule for the upcoming campaign. The teams will kick off the year Aug. 23 at the Auburn Invite and will compete in the Plattsmouth Invite Aug. 28. Meets at Johnson County Central, Fairbury, Bennington, Malcolm and Kearney are also on the calendar.
Trampe said he believes Conestoga students will gain many nutritious benefits from their involvement in the new cross country programs this season.
“As we enter our first year back at Conestoga, my expectations as a coach are high,” Trampe said. “I firmly believe that we have quality workers at Conestoga and I intend to challenge them daily to meet their own definitions of success.
“That can obviously mean a lot of different things among our individual team members. Some may be competing for championships, while others are working hard to improve their overall health and well-being.
“As a former runner, I know how many life lessons cross country can teach. I am excited to see our students develop their senses of self-discipline, mental toughness and ability to overcome the tough challenges that they will inevitably face.”