Coach Onnen has been with the Cross Country team at West since 1999, serving 7 years as the assistant coach before taking over as head coach in 2006. He teaches science at West and also works with the distance runners in Track during the spring season. Under Coach Onnen, the Cross Country team has won one League title, five Regional championships and has brought back one men’s and four women’s trophies from the State meet. His runners in Track have broken the Women’s 4×800 school record multiple times as well as individual records in the women’s 800, 1500, 1600 and mile races (all State records) and the men’s 3200 (a State Meet record) and won 10 gold medals at the State Meet. He and his wife Andrea (a graduate of SMW) have two daughters, Abby, who helped her team at our sister school, SMN, win a State Championship in XC in the fall of 2017, and Aisley who is budding runner in her own right.
Rachael SchafferAssistant Coach
Coach Schaffer has running in her blood. She competed in Cross Country and Track at Lawrence Free State HS before following in her father’s footsteps and joining the distance squad at KU. (Her father can still be spotted at KU where he often serves as a starter for Track and Cross Country meets.) Before joining the XC coaching staff at West in 2016, Coach Schaffer also coached Track in Tonganoxie. She also was on the coaching staff of the SM East Track team in 2018 before joining the SM West staff in 2019 woking with middle-distance runners. She has worked in SMSD since 2016 as a Special Ed teacher at Blue Jacket Flint, Westridge and finally at SM West. Coach Schaffer has been instrumental in helping to pilot a spring running club at Westridge MS to compliment the fall Cross Country season and recruit future Viking XC runners. She has a tremendous amount of experience with runners of all levels that she uses to encourage our runners and team to be the best they can be.
Ashton Shanks (Tevault)Assistant Coach
Coach Shanks (Tevault) brings a unique perspective to the SMW XC team having competed at West from 2009-12 and returning as an assistant coach the fall of 2019. In the interim she completed her undergrad degree in communication disorders at Missouri State, finished her Masters at KU in Speech Language Pathology and got married to Brandon Shanks. She is a speech pathologist at Comanche Elementary just down the road from West. In high school Ashton was a PaceSetter Award recipient her senior year on the Viking XC team, an honor bestowed to runners who not only work hard to be the best they can be, but in the process also take steps to elevate their teammates. This is a big part of what she brings back with her to the team and what makes her a great coach. Her advice to young runners: Look at running as an opportunity to challenge yourself, connect with others, and as a sport you can do for a lifetime! And like anything, you get out of it what you put in to the workouts and team dynamic.