Times Sports Editor
'Quality not quantity' is a phrase that applies to the Northview girl's cross-country team this season. They are also hoping that their quality can advance them a couple steps farther than last year's berth in the Brown County Regional.
New head coach Ryand Tucker takes over the reigns this season following a successful spring track season as the distance coach for the Knights.
Tucker takes over a team that placed third in last year's sectional behind champion Terre Haute North and runnerup Terre Haute South. Returning from last year's team is nearly everyone except for the graduated Hannah Hunter who placed 21st in the Terre Haute North Sectional.
Returning this season, with their sectional place in parenthesis, is one senior in Jennifer Jeffers along with a junior class that consists of: Kylee Thacker (3rd), Allie True (18th), Casandra Barnett (19th) and Marissa Bryan. Corey Laue (15th) returns from the sophomore class. Several other athletes are possibilities but haven't yet been at practice.
Though just six runners are currently on the roster, the summer has been full of quality workouts according to Tucker.
"I've been pleased with their efforts this summer," said Tucker of workouts that began just a couple of weeks after track season.
One unknown this year will be the jump from a four-kilometer course for the girls to a five-kilometer race like the boys have been running for years.
Tucker feels that the extra distance will actually be of some benefit to Northview's team.
"The extra 1,000 miles is more suited to the running styles of our girls," Tucker commented. "(The extra distance) isn't a drastic change. I think these girls are better suited for 5K than 4K. The longer distances are more tactical rather than speed oriented."
Thacker is one competitor who would seem to benefit from the longer distance with her shorter strides, but seemingly limitless endurance.
She was third in the sectional in her first year of cross country and advanced to place sixth in the Brown County Regional before her season ended in the semi-state with a 42nd place.
Hopes are high for her making the next step this season and getting her first experience at the state finals.
"Obviously we'd like to see Kylee make it to the state finals and we've set a goal to get the team to the next level as well," said Tucker. "Six teams advance out of the semistate, instead of five, so we've got some pretty high goals for the girls."
The rest of the team used last year to add to their experience level and are expecting to use that knowledge to benefit them in the 2007 season.
True, Jeffers and Barnett all placed in the top 22 in the 2005 sectional and are looking to build on the last two year's success and take their talents to the big stage in the IHSAA State Finals at the LaVern Gibson Complex in Terre Haute.
The Knights will benefit from a difficult schedule that has them running against the state's best in a handful of high profile meets. Best of all is that the Knights will run four times during the regular season on courses that they could see in the postseason.
Their first meet of the season will be on Aug. 18 for the Early Bird Meet at LaVern Gibson, which begins at 10 a.m. and annually features many of the state's top-ranked teams.
Tucker feels that running against tougher competition will help build the Knights' confidence leading into the postseason.
"It'll be big for our confidence level," said Tucker of a top finish in the sectional. "We were just a couple of points shy (last season). But our goals are not so much focused on the sectional as they are on regional and semistate."