The Warsaw Community High School boys cross country team definitely boasts both in ample supply this fall.
Those two key ingredients has veteran coach Jim Mills looking for big things from his veteran team which returns plenty from a squad that placed 15th at the State Finals in 2011. Six of the seven runners who competed at last season’s final meet return for the Tigers.
“With 18 of our 20 runners back from last year, our goal this year is a top five finish at State,” said Mills. “With what we have back, our goal is to be on the awards podium.”
“I’ve said it the last three years and I’ll say it again this year that this is the best boys cross country team in the history of the high school. No one can dispute that.”
Mills welcomes back his “Big Three” to lead the way in seniors Jake Poyner and Robert Murphy and junior Ellis Coon. The outstanding trio led the way last year as the Tigers won the sectional, placed third at the regional, fourth at the semi state and 15th at State.
“We really have three frontrunners and three No. 1 runners with those three guys,” Mills said. “Jake is meticulous and a real thinker out there. Ellis is a fierce competitor and is on a mission this year. Robert is always where he’s supposed to be for us.”
Poyner led the Tigers at State by finishing 42nd overall, while Coon placed 71st and Murphy 76th.
The competition for spots in the top seven in the Tiger lineup has been fierce in the preseason. In the mix are senior Brysten James, junior Ismael Calderon, sophomore Michael Compton and sophomores Nick Adams and Cam Hoskins. James, Calderon and Compton all competed at State in 2011. Calderon placed 70th overall among individuals at State a year ago, while Compton was 126th and James 138th.
“It’s going to be tough for anyone to crack that top seven this year,” said Mills. “We have about 15-16 guys fighting for our top 12 spots.”
Mills has a loaded roster of 52 runners which gives him plenty of options this fall. He also expects to benefit from his team being moved this season to the sectional and regional at Culver Academy.
“The numbers allow us to rest some guys if we want to and take things a little easier with the depth and talent we do have,” said Mills. “Staying healthy is always a key. Injuries are always a worry.”
Warsaw opens its season Aug. 14 by competing in the Hokum Karem Invitational in Fort Wayne.
Stichter Leads Warriors
Wawasee coach Jerid Stoffel likes the fact this his roster is deeper this fall.
“The guys have all kinds of depth,” said Stoffel. “Any combination of 10 guys could run in the top five for us on any given night. The key for us is who will be mentally tough. Especially when we get to the conference and sectional races.”
Reid Stichter returns for his senior season to pace the Warriors. He placed 20th at the regional a year ago and Stoffel expects him to be fresh this fall after not competing in track this past spring.
Other varsity contenders for Wawasee, all of whom were noted by Stoffel for their summer workouts, are juniors Adam Doll and Austin Yoder and sophomores Troy Carolus and Zach Cockrill. Also competing for spots are senior Sebastian List, juniors Joey Bornman and Austin Krizman and freshman Kris Marquart.
High Expectations for Trojans
Optimism is high even though the numbers are low for the Triton cross country squad this fall.
The Trojans, who advanced to the regional in 2011, are led by seniors Trenton Stackhouse and Trenton Cooper. Stackhouse competed in only three meets a year ago due to an injury. Derek Johnston is also a key for Triton.
“I have pretty high expectations despite only having five guys,” said Triton coach Wes Rettinger. “Again, as with our girls team, it’s about trying to avoid injuries this season. I expect a fifth straight trip to regional. I think both Stackhouse and Cooper should have a legitimate shot to qualify for semi state individually.”
Triton was 7-4 in dual meets in 2011 and placed fourth in the NSC Meet, fourth at sectional and 10th at regional.
Small Numbers For LCA
The co-ed cross country team at Lakeland Christian Academy in Winona Lake has just four runners this season, including one boy.
Freshman Alex Plastow will compete for the Cougars, who join the IHSAA this year.
“Alex has much potential,” said LCA coach Diane Catron.