By Lenny Sementi
Head cross country coach Mike Rosenbaum and his assistants Adam and Maria Crutchley and their boys and girls squads were all smiles as they kicked off the 2020 campaign at one-minute after midnight on Monday the 10 of August. Until a few weeks back fall sports were in jeopardy due to COVID-19 so the group of runners were just happy to be back at it carrying on the late night traditions of the past few seasons.
In all 26 runners were escorted through the streets during the night time jaunt, fourteen on the boys side and twelve on the girls. The team had a few late additions to the roster after the IHSA schedule changes that moved both football and volleyball to the spring. When asked about the roster size Rosenbaum exclaimed, “We picked up a few athletes that normally would have played a different fall sport, but overall I was not surprised. We had a really strong summer with high attendance at our workouts, so the coaches and I had a pretty good idea who was going to run for us this year.”
“The midnight practice was a lot of things to a lot of people,” stated Rosenbaum. “For the kids that were planning on running this fall anyways, it’s sort of the culmination of the hard work they put in this summer, and that we’re starting the next phase of our season. For the kids that decided last second due to schedule changes, I see it as a fun silver lining to their fall…I think a lot of these kids are appreciative of the fact that they’re going to be competing in something this fall, and there is a little bit of hunger there; especially for the kids that lost their track/baseball/softball seasons this year. It was a very encouraging beginning to our season, and a strong precedent for the remainder of our practices this year.”
Returning to the squad from a year ago will be three boys and seven girls. Logan Wallace and Riley Nolan are looking to improve on the progress they’ve made of the past few seasons and will lead the boys on the course. “Logan, in particular, has stepped up a bit as a vocal leader, while Riley is much more of a leader by example,” commented the coach. “This combo gives our talented, yet inexperienced team, a rally point for what we expect day in and day out from our athletes.”
The Warriors will be counting on a few freshmen to fill major roles. Jackson Barett, Josiah Hortin and Will Folz showed a lot of promise during off season workouts. Sophomore Mason Veach is also looking to compete for a varsity spot.
Four letter winners return for the girls in Brynn Tabeling, Hannah Hornaday, Mackenzie Herschberger and Kenzi Heckler. All four have put in their share of work this summer. “We seem to have more continuity this year,” commented Rosenbaum. “We are looking for Brynn, Hannah and Kenzi to lead us and extend our three-year streak of qualifying for sectionals as a team. Laney Cummings, a first-year senior, has shown a lot of promise this summer and we are looking for her to contribute early and often. After her, we have a lot of newcomers who might contribute to the varsity team: Skylar Wilkins, Reggan Smith, Mia Hausmann, and Lauren Woods. It will be interesting to watch how they compete with our girls that are returning, and how our varsity seven takes shape as the year progresses.”
Rosenbaum is unsure how exactly the teams schedule will look but has confidence athletic director Ryan Hornaday will produce a competitive slate while also doing what is best for the athletes following the guidelines set forth by the state. “The rules constrict the amount of runners in a single race at a time, so the really big weekend meets that everybody enjoys will not be even close to what we’re accustomed to,” the coach said.
“I definitely understand why the IHSA made the decision they did…this is an imperfect situation for everybody involved, and they have to keep player and spectator safety at the forefront of their decision-making. That being said, I was glad to see that they didn’t cancel any sports, and that they gave us guidelines for cross country to compete this year. Therefore, we’re going to make the most of the hand that we’re dealt, and have some fun in the meantime.”