Cross Country Preview
After a phenomenal 2015 season, the Tigers look to continue their winning streak by adding on a 22nd state title. Even with competition predicted to be more difficult and losing graduate Matthew Thomas the Tigers are still expected to contend for the state championship.
“We’re always aiming for a state championship and this year is no different ,” senior Ryan Guenthner says. “I think we have the most talent and depth of any team we’ve had in the past four years. We should definetly be able to make it two state championships in a row and maybe even nationals.”
The team is led by Guenthner, junior Patrick Schaefer, and sophomore Zach Larkin who all scored for the Tigers in last year’s state meet. These will be the top of the pack and are likely to be top 10 runners in state.
Behind these three is a lineup of runners that could all compete on the state team and be top ten finishers as well. They are extremely close in times and could all be interchangeable for the other 7 spots on the state team. This includes sophomore Grady Shiftlet, junior Cooper Marchal, junior Clay Meiers, junior Eric Portaro, senior Haba Hamada, junior Thomas Knepshield, junior Joey Schrepferman, sophomore Eoin Corbett, junior Jonny Vaughn, junior Clint Sherman, and senior Andrew Edwards. With all of these talented runners the competition is just as high when competing against fellow teammates in a race as it is the opponents.
“One reason we are better than past years is because everyone has to compete for their spot on the team. Often times in practice we compete a little much and end up going to fast, but for the most part it works well. Nothing is guaranteed so we all know we have to outwork the guy next to us if we want to be apart of the state meet and that’s really hard to do with all the talent we have,” says Guenthner.
“Our team has tremendous depth,” Edwards says. ” We have 15 guys who are competing for 10 spots. We are all working extremely hard for those spots. You can see that in our training. We all know we have to put in the work day in and day out in order to compete for those spots.”
The competiveness on the team is what drives the Tigers to be the best they can. They motivate each other and themselves everyday in practice. The competition is extremely stiff on the team which makes it even easier to compete against other schools.
“The high-powered competitiveness among us is great. It brings out the best in all of us,” Hamada says. “It is a tough journey when competing for the state team. It’s not easy, but there is a great benefit that comes with it. We become the best runner we can be.”
With a team that is maximizing its talent at practice, the competitve nature within the team, and the enormous depth it will be extremely difficult to take down the Tigers. With a large group of runners competing for only 10 spots the Tigers seem to have a bright future ahead of them in the 2016 season.