When it comes to the Waukee girls’ cross country team, several numbers jump out.
The team has reached the state meet eight seasons in a row, returns eight letterwinners this fall and boasts a roster of 43 girls, the most in school history. No matter how you slice it, the Warriors are a perennial power.
"Our team has set high goals and we will work hard and have fun in our quest to reach those goals," said 12th-year coach Heather Every.
Five of the team’s seven state runners from a year ago are back, and all five finished within 20 seconds of each other. That includes Rachel Brush (30th overall) and Maddie Anderson (57th) who are now sophomores, juniors Bri Young (38th) and Erika Lewis (41st) and senior Kayla Sabotin (42nd). Waukee’s talent shined last summer on the Drake Stadium track as the Warriors scooped up their second straight state track title. Sabotin, Young and Lewis helped Waukee win the 4x800-meter championship and Brush was a qualifier in the 3,000.
Also returning are senior Jenny Brown, who is also a force for the Waukee swim team, and senior Keely Smith, who ran on the 4x400 team that clinched the state title for the Warriors. Sophomore Elli Lenz also returns. Other possible contributors to the varsity squad include sophomore Jordan Allen, and freshmen Maggie Laird and Taylor Tornberg.
"We have eight returning letterwinners who are determined and dedicated, as well as many new runners who will positively impact our team," Every said.
The Warriors, who placed fourth in the Central Iowa Conference, went on to win their third consecutive regional title before finishing 10th at the state meet. "We are looking to build on the success of the past eight seasons of qualifying for the state cross country meet, and we are excited to run in one of the most competitive conferences in the state," Every said.