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Cross-country newcomers make for full boys, girls teams (Hometown Press article)

posted Aug 28, 2016, 2:14 PM by Webmaster lynnville-sully

Cross-country newcomers make for full boys, girls teams

Though numbers-wise the Lynnville-Sully cross-country team has more than made up for the six seniors lost to graduation, there are still big shoes to fill by the team this year. The boys team in particular will miss three-time state qualifier Canyon Kuhlmann. L-S Coach Darin Arkema, entering his 14th year as head coach, is doing his best to get his runners ready for the first meet of the year, set for Tuesday, Aug. 30, at Williamsburg.

  1. When did practices start? How has the team looked so far?
    L-S Coach Darin Arkema talks with John Trettin about his sprint time during the Aug. 18 practice.

Official practice started on Monday, Aug. 8. The first two weeks of practice, we go at 7 a.m. to get workouts done during a cooler part of the day. Things have gone very well so far as we get into the routine of practices and training.

  1. What strengths do you see in your team? How about areas to improve?

Strengths: Good numbers for full teams of both boys and girls, depth especially for the girls, girls’ good mix of experienced returners and newcomers, boys have some strong athletic competitors new to cross-country but have had success in many other sports, fun kids to work with who are getting along, competitive, and ready to push each other to do their best.

Concerns: Lots of newcomers that are learning on the go and trying to figure out what they are capable of. We'll see how those who are new to cross-country hold up over the course of a long season, especially if they didn’t get a good summer of running.

  1. Who will you be looking to as leaders on the team?

Kristine Jaennette, Luke Jones, and Haley James are the three seniors with the most cross-country experience. We will need them to share not only their knowledge and experience with racing and training, but also be encouraging and challenging the new or younger team members. I want everyone on the team to accept and take part in some leadership role. That may mean being vocal, showing up each day to practice to work hard, being there to pick up and encourage others, etc.

  1. Who do you think will be some of the stronger teams in the conference this year?

Our conference has provided some good competition over the last few years, and I expect this season to be no different. For the girls, Colfax-Mingo should have a nice team with a few who experienced being team state qualifiers in 2014. Sigourney provided good tests for our girls last year, and they, too, should have a strong squad returning. I never count out a well-coached Belle Plaine team, and Montezuma has been getting stronger the last two years as well.

For the boys, Sigourney, Montezuma, BGM, and Belle Plaine have taken turns the last few years at or near the top of the conference. Every year, there are individuals and teams that compete well that maybe nobody else saw coming, and you never know who has strong incoming freshman or newcomers. I expect a good challenge from our conference teams throughout the season and at our conference meet in October.

  1. What other insights do you have on the season ahead?

For our girls returning, they have been a part of a conference championship the last three seasons. Last year, they were fifth at the state-qualifying meet, only 12 points out of making it to state. They have seen and been a part of some high-performing teams. I know that none of them will be ready to let another team take top conference honors without a battle. Our goals and expectations will be again to compete at that high level. We will need our newcomers to step in and fill spots vacated from last season, and our veterans will also need to up their game.

For the boys, with Canyon Kuhlmann graduated, we clearly lost a top runner. But we gained a lot of new faces, and with that some guys whom I feel possess strong qualities to be distance runners. If this group puts the work in and runs as I believe they may be capable, this year’s boys team may be the strongest of any I’ve had. Time will tell us a lot about both groups, but I'm excited to go on the journey. I am thrilled with the group of athletes we have on the team this season. I feel strongly about their potential to be competitive, and as individuals and teams, enjoy a lot of success this season. I look forward to challenging them and seeing what they are capable of.