Times Sports Editor
The Northview cross country program has had a pretty high level of success under current coaches, Chad Smith and Ryand Tucker. The boys and girls teams have had multiple trips to the regional and semi-state level and a number of trips to the IHSAA State Finals for several athletes.
Both teams have lost several talented and experienced runners, but the addition of some quality freshmen has kept the hopes very high for the 2010 season.
The girls team has a pair of freshmen that were two of the top runners for a solid North Clay program and returns all but two of their team from last season. A nine-person team gives Tucker some options he hasn't had in past seasons.
"The numbers are real nice, I've been waiting on (numbers) for a few years and I think the girls are starting to realize that they can do well at this sport. It's just a matter of getting them out there to do it," Tucker said. "Numbers give me more options than I've had in years past. If someone gets injured I don't have to worry as much as I have before because we'll have someone who can step in and replace them."
Returning this season is senior Nicole Nelson, who ran to a 48th-place finish in the Brown County Regional last season. She has taken over the reigns in leading the team during the offseason, Tucker said.
"Nicole (Nelson) has done a real good job, this is her third year and she's a senior so the team is basically hers," Tucker said. "She knows what's going on and how things need to be ran and how I do things. She's taken over that role as team leader."
Number one runner, Alyssa Conrad, also returns for her junior year after placing 33rd in that regional last year and Tucker believes she is ready to build on a solid sophomore year.
Also returning for the Knights are Tori Rohrabaugh, Eileen Stinnett and Maeghan Pilman, who were each part of that regional team and gained valuable experience. Joining them will be Kylie McKee along with freshmen, Olivia Howald and Leanne Knight.
Continuing to add a solid number of freshmen each year is very important in maintaining the numbers and Tucker believes that North Clay coach, Chris Walker, keeps the runners interested in a sport that is very demanding.
"Coach (Chris) Walker over at the junior high has had good numbers. He only had two eighth-graders last year and both of them came out (for high school)," Tucker said. "He's helped the kids not hate (running) and I think that if the kids don't hate it after (the season) than they'll come out in high school."
On the boys' side, the Knights will have to replace Conor Strain, who will go down as one of the most accomplished runners that Northview has produced as he prepares for his freshmen season with the Indiana State Sycamores' cross country program.
However, the Knights may not have the depth of the girls' team, but coach Smith feels that quality sometimes trumps quantity.
"We're about six or seven deep, we're hoping to find a couple of kids once school starts," coach Chad Smith said. "We might or we might not, but we'll run who we've got. They are young and they like to run so that's a good start."
The Knights return three members of a regional qualifying team and add three very good freshmen from a conference champion North Clay squad last year.
Tanner Brown (59th) and Kyle Yocom (62nd) are a pair of seniors that ran No. 2 and No. 3 for Northview in the regional last year and are back to lead the squad. Those two are joined by junior Patrick Durcholz, who Smith feels is ready to make great strides this season.
"I think the kid that has improved the most is Pat (Durcholz) and he's looked good in practice," Smith said. "Tanner (Brown) has always been a solid top-seven runner for us. So they've got to step up for us. Our goal is to run as a group and to not worry about a front runner and to get a good pack together in the big meets."
Another reason to be excited is the addition of a strong group of freshmen runners that led North Clay to its first WIC title, beating Owen Valley by 12 points. All three runners placed in the top-10 as Nic Yocom won the four-kilometer race in 10:01. Ian Heffner was close behind in 10:50 and Travis Beil was ninth in 12:07.
Smith also believes that Walker's work at North Clay has benefited Northview's program already.
"It's great to have somebody coaching that runs and enjoys cross country and track. We've got a few freshmen and I don't know if (North Clay) had a huge amount of eighth-grades or not last year, but I'm hoping to see some benefits from the program the next few years. Hopefully we can get three or four freshmen each year," Smith said.
Injuries will likely slow the team during the early stages of the season as Kyle Yocom recovers from a knee injury and Nic Yocom heals a stress fracture.
"We're just trying to get in shape. We're not running in (The Early Bird Invite) this year so that gives us another week to get in shape. As the season goes along we'll be in better and better shape," Smith said. "Hopefully we'll be there when it counts. The last four meets are the ones that count, The Culver Invite, conference, sectional and advance to regional. Hopefully Nic (Yocom) will be healthy by Culver so hopefully we'll have him running at full strength."
Tucker also is looking for his team to perform well at the end of the season.
"I told the girls that I've got two goals this season, number one is to win (conference) and to get back to semi-state. We took a year off from semi-state last year, but we hope to get back there this year. That's what we're focusing on."
|Tue. Aug. 24||vs. Owen Valley, Brown County, Shakamak|
|Sat. Aug. 28||at Rushville Invite|
|Tue. Aug. 31||vs. T.H. South, North Central|
|Sat. Sept. 4||at State Preview Meet|
At Lavern Gibson Course
|Sat. Sept. 11||at Brown County Invite|
|Tue. Sept. 14||Northview Invite|
|Tue. Sept. 21||at Clay City|
|Sat. Sept. 25||at Culver Academy Invite|
|Sat. Oct. 2||at WIC Meet|
At West Vigo
|Tue. Oct. 12||Sectional|
At Lavern Gibson Course
|Sat. Oct. 16||at Brown County Regional|
|Sat. Oct. 23||at Brown County Semistate|
|Sat. Oct 30||at State Finals|
At Lavern Gibson Course