The boys’ cross country team will return many of its key runners next season.
If this season was any indication, the Whitman- Hanson Regional High boys’ cross country is heading in the right direction.
For the Panthers, despite their 3-5 record, nearly all of their production came from runners who will be back in the fold next fall. The team’s top seven was made up of three juniors, three sophomores and a freshman, with other underclassmen seconds behind.
Sophomore Theo Kamperides was W-H’s top finisher in every race en route to league all-star status. Kamperides, who owned one first-place finish, three second-place finishes and four third-place finishes, posted a personal-best average time of 17:29.
“Theo is a tireless worker, always wanting to do more,” fifth-year head coach Steve George said. “He doesn’t enjoy days off and always wants to extend his weekly long run which we capped off at 15 miles this fall.”
Kamperides’ first-place finish at 17:44 sparked the Panthers past Scituate, 21-40, Oct. 16. Junior Brandon Hager (17:48) was right behind Kamperides in that race, like he was all season. Hager was W-H’s No. 2 runner with a career-best average time of 17:48.
“[He] has worked diligently to improve his running efficiency and form and it has paid off,” George said. “A quiet leader who leads by example and is very enthusiastic about working to bring back a championship to W-H.”
Rounding out the top three was freshman Evan Jewett, who posted an average time of 17:58. “[He] arrived with virtually no experience but imitates his more experienced teammates in attitude and effort and has become a valued contributor early on,” George said. “His ability is exceeded only by his desire to improve, and he will.”
W-H’s other two wins came over Pembroke, 24-36, in its season opener and against Silver Lake, 24-37, Oct. 11.
“If one were to look at our race results [they’d] undoubtedly notice that with each successive week nearly all of our runners improved from his previous race,” George said.
While no runners caught George by surprise statistically, he said he’s always surprised when people he hopes will be good leaders become just that.
“Junior Adam Solari and senior Shane Schraut have been terrific captains,” George said. “Each has improved dramatically while mentoring our young runners. They actually do the little things like cleaning up our course following a meet, rather than delegate it to their teammates. As a result, nearly everybody pitches in.”
Schraut will be the Panthers’ only loss from inside their top 10 runners.
“Eight out of our second group (10-20) are either sophomores or freshmen, all of whom are talented runners who will return next year with more experience,” George said. “I am extremely optimistic for our future.”