By TYLER HENRY
Salina Post contributor
While the 3A division of Kansas cross country features a number of prestigious programs, few have maintained their dominance quite like Southeast of Saline.
Since 1986, Trojan cross country teams have hoisted 13 state championship banners to add to over 20 regional titles. That success has been instrumental in producing a winning culture that has carried over year after year.
“Once those kids walk into the gym and they see the banners hanging there from previous teams they want to be a part of that,” 18th year coach Wade Casselman said. “They want to put on the jersey with the big SES across the front of it.”
Those teams have been anchored by some of the best runners the state has seen, as the program has produced 41 all-state runners. The first of those was Casselman himself, who took home all-state honors from 1983-1986. The most recent are Dylan Sprecker and Jentrie Alderson, who both took home first place at state last season.
In addition to individual honors, Sprecker aided Southeast to a 2019 3A boys state title alongside Dominic Jackson and Luke Gleason, all three of whom placed in the top five at state.
The girls finished as state runners-up in 2019, thanks to the first place finish by Alderson, a tenth place finish from Ashley Prochazka and a solid run by Mallorie Pearson, who finished 30th.
Finishing a season with a first and second place team is impressive enough, but Southeast did it with very little senior experience, and the Trojans have a real chance to run it back in 2020, returning almost everyone from both teams.
On the boys side, the Trojans return a huge group of seniors, led by Jackson and Gleason, and aided by Drew Hanson and Spencer Smith. The Junior class returns 3A state champ Dylan Sprecker and Joel Kejr, who will be joined by sophomore Damion Jackson.
On the girls side, SES will be very deep and very young, with Makenna Roths leading the way as the team’s lone senior. Returning 3A state champ Jentrie Alderson anchors the juniors alongside Joni Schroeder.
Where the team really shines is in its youth, as three of their top six runners are still underclassmen. Returning for a second year are sophomores Ashley Prochazka and Savannah Sutton who will be joined by freshman Sadie Franklin.
Through the first two meets of 2020, both teams have looked very good, taking home first place finish each.
Jentrie Alderson had the fastest time among all girls at Hesston last week finishing her 5K in just 19:30, seven seconds clear of her closest competitor. Her performance, along with good runs from the whole team gave Southeast top honors at Hesston.
A week before that at Abilene, Southeast’s boys dominated the standings, taking seven of the top eight spots at the meet. They were led by defending state champ Dylan Sprecker, who turned in a time of 16:47.
Both teams will get back to work at Bennington this Thursday, following the junior high meet at 3:45pm.
Keep it locked to Salina Post for more updates on SES cross country throughout the 2020 season.