Tompkins Weekly

Lansing Bobcats continue to thrive under new coach

Lansing cross-country’s Trent Thibault (left) and Kinsley Jacobs have the been the standout runners so far, as the Bobcats look to repeat as IAC champions. Photos by Karin Silva.

Historically, Lansing has been the school to beat in cross-country. The Bobcats continued their dominance last season, as both the boys and girls teams won the IAC championship ( The boys side went on to capture the Class C Section IV crown, while the girls side came third. Both teams are once again poised for strong runs at IACs and sectionals, this time under new leadership.

Meghan McVey is now at the helm for the 2022 season. She takes over for Rebecca Lovenheim, who had led the Bobcats since 2016.

While McVey didn’t run cross-country in high school, her love for the sport grew later in life, so she started running in her 30s. She also has close ties to the school, teaching first grade and coaching the junior varsity girls basketball team, and has helped coach softball and soccer over the past few years. That combination of a passion for running and prior coaching experience at Lansing made her the right fit for the job.

So far, it’s been a successful start for both programs with quite a few strong performances under their belt. Both teams finished first at the Whitney Point Dual on Sept. 20, while the boys side picked up another victory at the Baldwinsville Invitational on Sept. 24.

“The season’s going so well,” McVey said. “These athletes are just high-caliber student-athletes both within their sport but also within their community. These are just very engaged, very kind, very capable young adults. They have just been so much fun to work with. They have shown me nothing but kindness and respect. Lansing has always had just such an amazing cross-country program, so they were dealt quite an interesting twist having to start fresh with somebody new, and they’ve just been amazing.”

McVey continued.

“I can’t say enough about these athletes themselves, in regard to how we’re performing,” she said. “They go out, they work hard every single day, they give 110%, and we’re seeing positive results. Our teams look good. We battled some early injuries, but we seem to be all healed up for the most part and running really well right now.”

On the girls side, Kathleen Sullivan and Kinsley Jacobs are the key returners, as both were IAC First Team All-Stars last season. Both runners placed in the top five at the Whitney Point Dual and in the top 25 at the Baldwinsville Invitational.

“They are working hard,” McVey said. “They are two consistent, motivated, highly capable athletes. Kathleen had some injury that sidelined her for a little bit, but she’s back at it. She looks great; she feels great. Kinsley is a leader, a captain, and she’s consistent. She runs well, she runs hard, and she motivates the rest of her team to run hard, as well.”

Meanwhile, on the boys side, one runner has taken the area’s cross-country scene by storm, and he’s only a freshman. Trent Thibault played a big role in the team’s wins at Whitney Point and Baldwinsville, finishing first and third, respectively. Despite not taking top spot, his Baldwinsville run was the most memorable, as he set the school record for the fastest 5-kilometer race by a ninth-grade boy at 17:26. McVey already knew he was special from the very first race.

“He is just absolutely fast,” McVey said. “At our first meet that we ran, he said he was going to take it easy. He came in at 17:02. He’s fast, but he’s also highly motivated. I’m not sure I’ve ever worked with an athlete with the level of determination and focus that Trent brings every single day.”

It’s no surprise that coaching cross-country is completely different than other sports, which has been one of the challenges McVey has had to face in her first season.

“[It’s different in] the way that you push your athletes and how often you push them,” McVey said. “You can’t over-run them. You’re always worrying about injuries, so we’re constantly trying to work on strength training, work on focus and work on how we attack these varying meets. There’s a lot more variation when it comes to making sure that your athlete is strong and healthy to race.”

While McVey is confident in the Bobcats’ ability to achieve more postseason success, she has other ambitions outside of winning races.

“My goal for this season is to create a positive, smooth transition,” McVey said. “We just go out and we do our best. And we work as hard as we can every single day, and we try to get better. I do believe we’re capable of sectionals. I believe that we are capable of IACs. But I also think that this program has undergone a big shift, and we need to give some space for that. Winning is super important, but this year, it’s about creating a positive space that people just want to continue to buy into.”

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