Olathe East’s girls were tabbed as the favorites in Class 6A by the Kansas Cross Country/Track and Field Coaches Association, which have the Hawks ranked No. 1 in the state.
Coach Tony Bozarth’s squad won state for the fourth time last and now own three of the last four 6A crowns, but replacing Brenna McDannold won’t be easy.
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Still, led by senior Kelsey Lathrop and sophomore Allison Vermillion, who have won state medals, Olathe East has a nucleus to start.
Senior Amanda Sharp and junior Natalie Kloppin also return from the Hawks’ title-winning teams, while sophomores Emily LaRocco and Natalie Haas are expected to step in on the varsity squad.
The Hawks are hosting the annual Olathe East Invitational on Thursday at Lone Elm Park, which also will include Lawrence Free State, Blue Valley, BV Northwest and St. James Academy.
Unlike most meets — which are broken into varsity, junior varsity and so on — the Olathe East Invitational is competes by class with senior, junior, sophomore and freshman races for the boys and girls.