Tiger Cross Country Preview

Spencer Hayden | Photo by Jana Bollinger

Last year, the Saint Xavier Cross Country team won their third straight state championship and became the first 3A team to ever win 20 state championships. This year, the Tiger Cross Country team looks to make even more history, as they go for four in a row, which has never been done before in Class 3A. The Tigers lost 5 of their 7 state team members but don’t expect this to be a rebuilding year for the Tigers. St. X simply reloads, and this year is no different.

Key Losses – Chris Striegel, Ben Metzger, Max Mudd, Jack Minogue and Stephen Kinny

Key Returnees – Spencer Hayden (Junior) and William Mulloy (Senior)

The Tigers already show the potential to win a  fourth straight championship, as they have put together a couple of great pre-season performances. Spencer Hayden and Matthew Thomas have finished 1-2 in both races, but positions 3-7 have flipped around in order between the time trial and the Manual Practice meet, something you could see a lot of this upcoming season.

Pre-Season 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Time Trial Spencer Hayden Matthew Thomas Ben Kleine-Kracht Ryan Guenthner Tyler Just Andrew Garvey Henry Geisler
Manual Practice Meet Spencer Hayden Matthew Thomas Tyler Just Andrew Garvey Ben Kleine-Kracht Ryan Guenthner Henry Geisler

 

Matthew Thomas | Photo by Jana Bollinger

Hayden and Thomas led the team in the pre-season (Note: Senior William Mulloy was out due to an injury), but the state championship will be won on the strength of spots 3-7. As of right now, the Tigers have a very strong core of Ben Kleine-Kracht, Tyler Just, Ryan Guenthner, Andrew Garvey and Henry Geisler. They also have some depth past that with Brennan Wheatley, Ben Glover, Ben Farber, Andrew Edwards, and freshmen Patrick Schaefer and Clint Sherman.

Junior Matthew Thomas said, “We have a very strong front pack of Spencer Hayden, William Mulloy and myself who are all fighting to be up in the top 10 individuals, and then our #4 – 9 guys are all very close to each other. They are all within about 30 seconds of each other and really not all that far from behind our front pack.”

In years past, the main opponent to winning a state title was Trinity. This year a team from Northern Kentucky has jumped into contention.

“Cooper is definitely the biggest threat this year,” said Senior Ben Kliene-Kracht. “They had several guys finish better than 16th place last year, and they graduated no one. They gave us a hard time freshman year, so it will be tough this year too. As always, Trinity is a threat, but I’m confident we can win the state title.”

“There are a lot of solid teams in the state this year, but we’ve had our eye on Cooper High School since last year and knew they were returning some good runners,” said Senior William Mulloy.

The Tiger Cross Country team wants to win their fourth straight championship, but they also have their eyes set on a later meet: Nike Cross Regionals in Cary, North Carolina.  “Besides state this is our most important race because it gives us a chance to qualify for Nike Nationals in Oregon,” said Mulloy.  “Plus anytime the team gets to travel out of state together we have a lot of fun.”

“I’m looking forward to NXR the most because of a few reasons,” said Junior Spencer Hayden. “Firstly, the team gets free gear there. Secondly, it is the meet that will determine whether or not we will be attending the Nike Cross Nationals. Thirdly, it is very fun as the weather is usually mild and the mall across from the hotel has many great restaurants inside it and stores to go into. It is the most fun meet to be with the team.”

Why is St. X going to win the title? “Because I know the team we are up against, but they don’t know us,” said Kleine-Kracht. “Milesplit just hosted a poll and Cooper won as the favorite to win. No one knows us yet. We have guys that have had great seasons but have just been overshadowed by the greats in the past couple of years. No one has heard of guys like Ryan Guenthner, Andrew Garvey, Tyler Just and Ben Farber, but they will know us by the end of the year. We have the element of surprise going for us. That, our determination and the hard work we have been putting in since day one will give us the title.”

The Tigers first race will be on Saturday, August 30th at the Tiger Run.

Go Tigers!  We Are!

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About Cole Bollinger

Editor for WSTX Sports

Posted on August 24, 2014, in Tiger Cross Country and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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