First Is The Worst, Second Is The Best

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Second place: a heartbreaking yet terrific feat accomplished by not one, but four Lady Vikings teams over the 2010-11 school year.

It may seem unlucky, the fact that four separate teams were so close to becoming champions. You could see it as an 0-for-4. It may make a Viking wonder, “Why us? What did we do to deserve getting so close four different times?” On the other hand, it may seem lucky. Second place is not something to be scoffed at; just making it that far is a feat of its own. In fact, you could see it as a 4-for-4. Regardless of how you see it, the facts are straight; The Lady Vikings of cross country, basketball, soccer and track & field all bear the same 2010-11 trophy: State runner up.

It all started in the fall, when the cross country season started. The girls team looked strong from the beginning, with older talent like Megan Haghnegahdar leading the way, and newer talent like phenom Alli Cash posed to make a breakthrough.

“I feel like we were expected to do well. [Head coach] Onnen really helped us get far, and everyone on the team got along really well,” Alex Elliott, sophomore, and member of the cross country and track teams, said.

As a favorite heading into the state meet, the girls had high expectations to live up to. Unfortunately, after the heat caused one of the runners to collapse, the Vikings found themselves on the wrong end of a tie-breaker, and ended up losing by literally one point. One point separated the girls from where many thought they should have rightfully been, and where they actually ended up.

“I was pretty devasted because of what happened, but it was still amazing,” Elliott said.

After fall ended, winter came, which brought about the basketball season. Along with the cross country team, the girls basketball team also looked impressive from the start, with five starting seniors and plenty of bench depth.

“We had all played with or against each other for as long as I can remember, so we knew each others’ game and were really focused,” Whitney Knightly, West graduate and former girls basketball player, said.

Team captain Lizzy Jeronimus helped lead the soon-to-be famous squad to State, and eventually the State Championship game against Wichita Heights.

“Overall, it was the most fun game I have ever played in. The atmosphere was very intense, and we made a huge comeback in the fourth quarter. They won with two seconds left, but I feel like we played our best basketball,” Knightly said.

The final seconds of the game added on to what was already a heartbreaking year, as the Falcons broke the tie with a couple seconds to go, eventually leading to a victory of two points.

Drama seemed to be the theme for the year. With two close-as-can-be state finishes, team members found themselves having mixed emotions.

“It’s always really sad when you get second, but it’s still awesome and something to be proud of,” Elliott said.

Fortunately for Lady Viking fans, spring brought two more talented teams to the table. The soccer and track teams found themselves in the same story – the same beginning as the cross country and basketball teams. However, for soccer, it was a little different. Not favored from the start, the soccer team burst on to the scene in the middle of the season. With a strong core of players, including Jenny Allin and Sydney Miramontez, and tons of team chemistry, they fought their way to an 18-2-1 record, suprising many soccer fans.

“We definitely did as well as we did because of our preparation. Just about everyone went to conditioning and put in their all every practice,” Amy Schmidt, senior and soccer player, said.

But they would face the same end as the teams before them, and finish in second place.

“We played Blue Valley Northwest, and lost 1 to 0 due to an own goal,” Schmidt said.

Three second place finishes. Will West catch a break? Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. The girls track team, led by Alli Cash and Lizzy Jeronimus, would also get second place. The curse would not be lifted. But is second place really that bad?

“Despite everything, I think we all took it well. I mean, we can’t really be that mad, we got second,” Elliott said, “We’ll just have to get first next year.”