Can’t catch these Lady Huskies

A young Husky pup accompanied a pair of onlookers at the GISH Invite at the Centura Hills Golf Course last week. Its bright blue eyes and fuzzy exterior jumped with excitement with each new friend, its tongue hanging out the side of its jaw running up and down the spectator sideline taking in all the action. It was an ironic foreshadowing of what was about to take place on the 5K running course.
The Aurora cross country team members -- the girls team specifically -- have a distinct bullseye painted upon their backs. They know the expectation. They’re okay with it -- they embrace it.
The Lady Huskies lined up for the GISH meet with the pressures of bumping elbows with Class A’s Omaha South on the far end of the starting line. One individual class at Omaha South is nearly enough to encompass the entire high school population at Aurora.
I like to refer to it as ice water that some athletes just possess -- the “it” factor. The Lady Huskies have “it.” Actually, a lot of it.
The Aurora girls team was tabbed to come back this year with the potential to do something special in defense of its team championship last fall. Perhaps back to back?
To do so, they had a few special senior leaders to replace, like Jonna Bart, Emily Standage and Hunter Koepke.
Next runner up mentality. That’s the kind of thinking coach Tony Sigler presses into the minds of his team, and they understand that. They believe in him. He asks for their all, and they give it.
This year’s team is highlighted by Kennedy Krejdl, Maya Nachtigal, Emily Donnell, Kyla Carlson, Avril Jones and Jaelyn McDonald. That’s six names, and in most meets, only four count for a team score.
Just as impressive, all six of these ladies have consistently run in the medal positions throughout the season to date, thus beating out some of the area’s best teams rather handily.
Someone asked me recently who I thought was the best runner on the team. Honestly, there isn’t one individual who stands on a pedestal above the rest, and that’s what makes them so great. They don’t need a true No. 1, because in fact, they ALL can be.
Three of them -- Krejdl, Nachtigal and Donnell -- have all proven at one time or another that they are capable of not only finishing as Aurora’s top runner, but winning the race entirely.
Although she dealt with some issues early in the season, Krejdl is slowly building back up to her full potential, running up front and competing in the top five. Her experience is extensive, competing in several high pressure situations, including state cross country and state track. Nothing will rattle her, so don’t waste your time.
Donnell is that consistent elder statesman for the Lady Huskies who every team craves. She stepped up and ran extremely well early in the year to keep the team afloat while they dealt with some of those injury issues and has made some big strides from last year. She’s the glue that keeps the puzzle together.
Both Nachtigal and Carlson are the most intriguing runners for Aurora. They are do-it-all type runners. They have the short burst of speed to win a dash race but can also tire you out and gas you in a distance marathon. They’ve proven that in both cross country and track. It makes them fun to watch because you know they can hit a switch and once they do, book it.
Then Aurora has runners at the back of the lineup -- Jones and McDonald -- that on nearly any other team would be top-tier runners. The depth and drive for the Lady Huskies is second to none.
There just seems to be an uncanny ability with the Aurora girls where they can make it seem like they’re expending more energy than they really are. Their ability to get out and run and do so in a pack mentality makes others get the impression they’ve got to push, and that’s just not a battle people can win versus the Lady Huskies. It’s so impressive to observe.
As the Aurora girls came strolling up the rolling hills on the fairway down the stretch toward the finish line, nearly one after the other, it was clear. They expect nothing less than pure domination.
And just like the Husky pup chasing the action around the course, Aurora isn’t afraid to run past the field with a smile on its face.
RICHARD RHODEN can be reached at

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