High school xc: P-C Rockets hope to build experience season approaches
By BRANDON HURLEY
CHURDAN – The Paton-Churdan cross country team will field just three runners this fall, which means the Rockets once again won’t qualify for any team meets.
But head coach Lauren Bardole won’t let that deter the runners from the goals they set forth each year as they return one runner who placed top 10 in the Rolling Valley a season ago.
Jack Bryson returns as the Rockets’ top runner this fall. He finished 29th in the conference meet. Trevoer Bundt is back again while Jon Thede joins the team as a freshman. Isaac Ireland, who finished ninth at the conference meet last fall, did not go out for the team in 2016.
The initial August practices have been vital in getting the trio into cross country shape.
“At our first practice, we did some real conditioning and then I asked the boys to really think about why they are out for cross country and what they’d like to accomplish this season.
The 2016 season is all about progress. Bardole is big on setting goals and accomplishing them as well as instilling mental toughness.
“Cross Country is such an independent sport, especially this year when they will be unable to compete as a team,” the coach said. “I have them write down goals, make sure they are attainable and then have them write two things that will help them meet their goals.”
Bardole is excited to see what the lone Rocket newcomer can do in his first year at the high school level. Thede had a productive year on the middle school circuit and is ready for the new challenges of high school competition.
“It will be an adjustment from running the shorter, middle school courses he ran last year,” Bardole said. “He was very successful last season, so it will be fun to watch him transform this season into a high school athlete.”
Though they are putting forth a very small team, the Rockets enter the fall with an increased knowledge of the sport as a whole then in 2015.
“We know what to expect, how a cross country meet looks and is run,” Bardole said. “We have a better familiarity with the sport.”
The biggest challenge, Bardole said, out of many hurdles with a small team, is keeping the guys motivated and going that extra mile. She’ll help stagger the runners in practice so no one runner gets too far ahead of the group. That’s an important aspect of keeping the trio motivated, she said.
“We need to make sure everything is pushing eachother and being held accountable,” the coach said. “It’s really easy to say ‘hey, I’m not going to send a fast pace today, maybe we will slack off as a group.’ When you have more runners there’s more inner drive and competition. With three runners, you really have to have that internal motivation to push yourself in practice.”
Exira-EHK’s Evan Wilson poses to be the conference’s most talented runner, cruising to a sixth place at state in 1A a year ago as only a sophomore. He was the Spartans’ only runner to place in the top 20 in the conference.
Boyer Valley seniors Connor Garrett and Zach Ambrose will the runners’ toughest competition this season, as each finished in the top 25 at the 1A state meet in 2015. Garrett finished 22nd (17:27.4) while Ambrose finished just a few steps behind in 23rd with a nearly identical time of (17:27.6).
The Rockets open the cross country season at Southeast Valley today (Thursday, Aug. 25) in Gowrie.
2016 Paton Churdan Cross Country Schedule
• Thursday, Aug. 25 - Southeast Valley Away
• Thursday, Sept. 1 - West Central Valley Away
• Thursday, Sept. 8 - Greene County Invite (Spring Lake) Away
• Thursday, Sept. 15 - Panorama (Lake Panorama Golf Course) Away
• Thursday, Sept. 22 - Audubon Away
• Monday, Sept. 26 - Orient Macksburg (Orient Lake) Away
• Thursday, Sept. 29 - West Central Valley Away
• Monday, Oct. 3 - Woodbine Away
• Tuesday, Oct. 4 - South Central Calhoun (Lake City) Away
• Thursday, Oct. 20 - Regionals TBA
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