Playing the same position as one of the program’s all-time greats, Gael Landeros had to wait his turn on the Wichita East boys soccer team.
His senior season was worth the wait.
Landeros has been the most dangerous attacking player in Wichita in his first year starting at forward for a Blue Aces (9-1-1) team in City League title contention. His 15 goals pace the league and his 11 assists rank second, while his 41 points are the most by a wide margin in the City League.
“It was hard for me when I was younger and you think you’re better than you are,” Landeros said. “But I learned that there’s always going to be someone better than you. I had to wait my turn and I think that was good for me because I learned a lot and mentally I changed my approach. I really think that helped me become who I am now.”
East is accustomed to having a steady scorer at the top of its formation, but that role was a question mark upon the graduation of Ivan Quezada.
Landeros, who waited years in a backup role, has blossomed into a reliable, go-to option for the Blue Aces when given the opportunity.
“His touch is fantastic and so is his decision-making, the way he sees the game,” East coach Fred Koepp said. “He’s very quick, which makes him hard to mark, and he’s just a competitor. The dude wants to compete with everyone.”
While Landeros is the team’s leading scorer, he is far from the only weapon. Junior Isaac Martinez has netted seven goals, while sophomore Carlos Luna-Reyes has scored six. Fellow sophomore Enzo Amaya has been a valuable playmaker in the midfield with eight assists, while junior Cesar Saludes and freshman Jose Jimenez both have four goals.
But when East is at its most dangerous, Landeros is usually involved. The Blue Aces will finish the regular season with a critical City League showdown with fellow contender Northwest at home on Oct. 18.
“It feels great having this good of a season so far,” he said. “But I really don’t think this is the end for me. It’s just the beginning.”
Landeros said he has yet to receive a scholarship offer from a college soccer team, but has the desire to play collegiately and beyond.
He hopes his breakout season can catch the attention of a program that is willing to take a chance on him. But he’s not worried about it yet — after all, he knows how to wait his turn.
“I don’t think there’s really a limit for what we want to accomplish this season as a program,” Landeros said. “We obviously want to win some hardware with City League, regionals, state. And then individually, I think of college as more of a stepping stone. That’s not where I plan my end to be in sight. I want it to be a place that will help me get somewhere else and play soccer for a long time.