Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Vikes' Podlena Claims Second Straight Victory

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Vikes' Podlena Claims Second Straight Victory

Article excerpt

Seaman senior cross country standout Dawson Podlena has already been a two-time state placer in Class 5A, so there's not a whole lot of improvement left to be made.

But Podlena and Viking coach Luke Wiens seem to have found that little extra as Podlena tries to finish out his high school career with a flourish.

Podlena made it two for two in individual victories this season with a win in Saturday's Topeka West Joe Schrag Invitational at Felker Park, with Podlena clocking a five-kilometer time of 16 minutes, 33.5 seconds to win by more than seven seconds.

"We did a couple of things (in the offseason),'' Wiens said of Podlena, who opened his season with a win in the Manhattan Invitational. "One is we worked very hard on his form. Actually his form was a little better than we thought initially, but we just kind of tweaked it and that's improved.

"And then he just committed to being more consistent with his mileage. That was tough because at the end of track he was beat up and he needed some time to recover, but we built him up and now we've got him at a number where he's very consistent and almost religious about it. He's going, 'I need to get these miles in.'" Podlena, also a state runner-up in wrestling as a junior, said he does feel stronger this fall.

"Putting in the mileage just really helps over the summer,'' he said. "We didn't even really do that much fast stuff. It was just trying to build a base so we can build speed on that during the season.''

So far so good, with Podlena battling Shawnee Mission East sophomore Griffin Keeter for much of Saturday's race before steadily pulling away at the end.

"I didn't feel as good as I did during Manhattan -- I think it was just the day -- but I felt pretty good and the win definitely helped it,'' Podlena said.

Podlena was one of two Vikings in the top 10 Saturday, with senior Jordon Jensen finishing eighth, as Seaman placed second as a team, just one point behind SM East (43-44).

The Vikings actually tied Leavenworth but took runner-up by virtue of a higher finish by their sixth runner.

"I liked the way we competed,'' Wiens said. "We tried to be a little bit more aggressive at the front. We know that Leavenworth's very good and Shawnee Mission East is as well.

"Our times weren't as quick as we hoped, but we competed very well and went and got guys and worked through discomfort better than we have in the past. We've just got to keep building in that area.''

Shawnee Heights didn't field a team, but junior Hunter Henderson, a state champion in track, finished fifth.

Topeka West sophomore Omar Morales posted a 10th-place finish, with West finishing fourth as a team.

Topeka High sophomore Abby Wagemaker looked to be in position to win the girls race, but after leading much of the way the Trojan star encountered problems late in the race and finished second to SM East senior Devon Dietrich. …

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