Local Sports from The Courier
Saturday, August 18, 2012Prep Cross Country: Mix of youth and experience for Findlay
Findlay High School's cross country team is starting the season where it hopes that it will end, at National Trails Raceway in Hebron, the site of the OHSAA State Cross Country Championships
The Trojans will be one of more than 100 teams from across Ohio that will open their season Saturday at the inaugural OHSAA Preseason Invitational.
Findlay coach Mark Gleason has built the Trojans boys into one of the top programs in Northwest Ohio. But they are still looking to take that next step from being a solid regional contender to a state-qualifying team.
"We're in an unbelievably tough regional with a lot of saints: (Cleveland) St. Ignatius and (Toledo) St. Francis are among the state's top teams year after year," Gleason said. "Our No. 1 and No. 2 guys can run with anyone, we have a lot of talented freshmen and we're counting on them to step up for us later in the year."
The Trojans were hit hard by the graduation of 10 members of the boys team, including four or five of their top seven runners from 2011.
Senior Matt Waaland and junior Shadd Risser should be in for a another big year for the Trojans.
Risser is a returning district champ and earned first team all-TRAC honors. Waaland, earned second team all-league honors while another returnee, senior Phillip Jewett, was honorable mention all-conference.
"Matt (Waaland) had a hip injury it took him just about two years to get over and he just got healthy during track last spring. We're expecting big things from him," Gleason said.
"Shadd is a runner now. I think it's the first time he really worked during the offseason and he's much stronger. He was one of the top runners heading into the regional but I think a lack of experience kind of caught up to him."
Gleason likes what he's seen from junior Brad Dufek. He also thinks he'll be able to count on what he calls the best freshman class he's ever had at Findlay.
Isaiah Gaines, the TRAC middle school champ, should fit nicely into the lineup, along with freshmen classmates Patrick Breen and Justin Hopkins.
Meanwhile, Findlay's girls team should be improved. The Trojans were fifth in the TRAC last season and return several letterwinners including their No. 1 runner in junior Sara Barwig.
Barwig earned second team all-conference honors and was just one spot away from earning a trip to the regional meet.
"Sara has trained more than ever and it's shown," Gleason said. "She's put a lot of work in this summer. She's already running in the 20s (20 minutes) and we're hoping she drop into the 19s."
Sophomore Emily Stahl, who was slowed by injuries, is also healthy this season and should be a solid member of Findlay's top five.
Gleason is also expecting contributions from seniors Bekah Shultis and Rebecca Shaffer, junior Emily Schaefer and sophomore Lindsay Bowerman.
The Trojans will serve as the hosts of this year's TRAC championship meet Oct. 13 at Sycamore Springs Golf Course.
2012 Findlay Cross Country Schedule
Aug. 18 at OHSAA Pre-Season Invitational
Aug. 25 at Celina Invitational
Aug. 28 at Tiffin
Sept. 8 at Tiffin Carnival
Sept. 15 at Toledo St. Francis/Chet Sullwood Invitational
Sept. 29 at Oregon Clay Eagle Invitational
Oct. 6 at Marion Harding Invitational
Oct. 13 TRAC Championship at Sycamore Springs Golf Course
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