Head coach Steve Goerge is expecting the boys’ team to be competitive while he doesn’t know what to expect from the girls’ team just yet.
Personal bests are always key in the sport of cross country. Without shooting for them, you’re doing your team a disservice.
Cross country is also one of the rare sports that celebrates the lowest score, not the highest with a first-place finish yielding one point, a secondplace yielding two and so on.
At Whitman-Hanson Regional High, fifth-year head coach of the boys’ and girls’ teams Steve George is hoping to see his runners flourish thus producing some positive results.
On the girls’ side, senior captain Maeve McDonough will lead the way.
“She’s a surprise,” George said. “When she first came here, one of my better runners said, ‘You won’t find a sweeter kid. She’s not a great runner but you won’t find a sweeter kid.’ Well, she was a sweet kid and right now she’s our top girl runner.”
Runners two through four will be juniors Niki Kamperides, Tori Boss, Tori Carleton and at No. 5 will be senior captain Maeve Rooney.
“She works hard despite the fact that she’s a dancer,” George said of Rooney. “She does Irish step dancing, which to me is as difficult as running is.”
Said Rooney: “I think if I’m doing good, I can motivate others to do good which would result in more wins for the team.”
George said freshmen Anna Flynn and Sarah Boulger have impressed him early on while seniors Dorothy DiMascio-Donohue and Gabbie Trongone figure to factor into some meets.
“I think everyone has a lot of potential and they don’t realize it until they actually start getting serious about it,” McDonough said.
The girls return to the course Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 4 p.m. on the road against league opponent Hanover.
“It’s just a matter of improvement for them,” George said. “I haven’t even thought about wins and losses and that’s never been my criteria for a successful season. I’d like to see a steady improvement over the season.”
The boys’ team has “the makings of a very good team”, according to George.
Sophomore Theo Kamperides is the Panthers’ top returning runner and junior Brandon Hager is their second best.
Adam Solari, W-H’s third best returning runner, will captain boys alongside senior Shane Schraut.
“Adam comes from hockey and he’s a tremendous hockey player, strong hockey player,” George said. “He’s well-liked by his teammates. I think the fact that he’s well-liked is going to help him with leadership.
“Shane is on the quiet side and he’s a quiet leader. He’s shown some leadership in and outside of cross country.”
Schraut said the Panthers like to encourage each other regardless of where they stand on the totem pole, which will work to their advantage this season.
“Say one guy is straggling, one guy from behind will tell him to keep going and just keep pushing him to do harder and better,” Schraut said.
Solari echoed Schraut’s views.
“I think if we push each other, we’ll be a really good team,” Solari said.
Juniors Matt Avery, Dylan Burns and Nick Hanley along with , sophomores Matt Butler, Liam Cafferty and Chris MacDonald and freshman Evan Jewett will also make impact for the Panthers, who return to action at Hanover on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 4 p.m.
“We have the makings of a very good team,” George said. “Perhaps not this year, but next year. One of our captains is a junior and then the next top seven is made up of juniors, sophomores and freshmen.”