COACH: Ross Wilbur (7th season)
LAST YEAR: The girls cross country team were Tri-Valley Conference champions for the first time in 19 years and placed in the top-five of every meet they competed in, with the exception of one.
“I think there are some expectations for the girls this year,” Wilbur said. “We’re on everybody’s radar, and now we have a target on us.”
Last year’s boys team had many graduating seniors and this year’s team is younger, Wilbur said. He said it’s hard to gauge yet how the boys team will perform this year with a younger team.
KEY PLAYERS: Sophomore Cale Englert has the opportunity to emerge as the boys team’s No. 1 runner this year and could potentially qualify as an individual for the state competition. Senior Walker Drake will run his first year on the team this year and has been impressive in practice so far, Wilbur said. For the girls team, junior Tori Thomas qualified for the state competition last year and was all-conference. She could move into a leadership role this year after last year’s seniors have moved on and is a contender to break school records, Wilbur said. Sophomore Britney Robertson qualified, either individually or in relays, for four events at last year’s state competition. This year she is coming in fired up and will likely run toward the front of the pack, Wilbur said. Sophomore Baillie Fetzer had a great season last year and put in a lot of work over the summer, Wilbur said. She has come to practice looking very strong this year, finishing in the head of the pack in some of the workouts, he said.
DID YOU KNOW? This year’s team is bigger than it’s ever been, with nearly 40 kids, Wilbur said. For comparison, he said when he took over the team seven seasons ago, he had 16 runners between the boys and girls teams.
SEASON OUTLOOK: Expectations are high for the girls team this year because of the team’s success last year, Wilbur said.
“They feel like they have a legitimate right to defend the conference championship,” he said. “Our other goal is to make it back to the state competition.”
He said after seeing the girls team’s success last year, the boys team could also surpass some of their expectations and “pull a rabbit out of their hat too,” Wilbur said. He said the team’s goals will be to develop its young runners and give them good experience with which to go forward.
“I’ve got my fingers crossed for some exciting things to happen,” he said.
WILBUR’S COMMENTS: The teams competed in a scrimmage last Saturday, but many of the kids couldn’t participate because of Colorado High School Activities Association requirements. The team’s first official meet will take place Saturday at Fossil Ridge High School, which Wilbur said is a runner-friendly course.
“The meet will be a good measuring stick for where we are at,” Wilbur said. “The girls can pick up where they left off. They have the potential to be in the top-5 or top-6 teams. It will be the true litmus test for boys, and give us a good baseline for how we’re running as a team and as individuals.”