By Lenny Sementi
New look for Warrior Cross Country as a new head coach takes over the reigns. Lacey Diaz and Adam Crutchley stepped up when Mike Rosenbaum stepped down as leader of the black and gold. Diaz, a girl’s track coach in the past takes over on the girl’s side while Crutchley will lead the very talented boys team. Crutchley was the top assistant last season and has been a run the local running scene for many years. Combined the duo will lead one of the largest rosters in program history boasting 24 runners in all with 15 boys and nine girls.
The Warrior boys landed just outside the top 25 in Class 1A in preseason polls. They were listed in a group of teams to watch entering the 2021 season. Hinting that the Warriors could turn some heads early and make a run at state qualification late.
Led by a strong senior class last fall and a pair of talented freshmen last year the Warriors took eighth overall out of sixteen teams at the Decatur St. Teresa Regional despite a few injuries while advancing an individual runner to the sectionals. Now super soph Josiah Hortin ran a 16:31 on the Hickory Point course in the sectional and would have advanced individually to the state meet that was cancelled due to the pandemic. Both were not small tasks, as both the Regional and the Sectional possessed four of the top five small teams in the state.
He and classmate Jackson Barrett will look to lead a strong group of runners heading into the season. Barrett garnered some attention as well and looks extremely good entering the fall. Hortin scored as the number one more than anyone and Barrett took his turn a few times.
Fourth year seniors Logan Wallace and Riley Nolan will push the talented youngsters. Wallace, who dealt with injuries last season has been a scorer every year and has been the number one more than a few times sporting a 17:19 personal best three-mile time. Riley has erased over five minutes from his time during his time in the black and gold posting a 17:46 PR. Joining them to round out the top six will be Will Foltz and Mason Veach. All six were solid performers in the distance events for Tuscola’s track team this past spring. Bryce Graves is new to the team this year and is currently next in line and could push for a scoring spot at some point.
The girl’s squad lost their top two runners to graduation but returned a solid core that should be able to grow underneath Diaz’s tutelage. Reggan Smith, Sage Stahler, Kyla Gough, Skylar Wilkins, Lauren Woods and Makenzie Hershberger all return from a team that advanced to the Sectional level last fall. Smith ended the year as the number three a year ago but will push for the one or two spot in scoring for the team. Wilkins will also be at the front of the pack, as will Woods. Sophomore Addisyn is new to the squad but is already making strides consistently finishing in the top three during practice runs.
The coaches did numerous team-building things in the off-season including a three-day trip to camp Drake for Cross Camp. They also held a team triathlon that consisted of a two-mile run, eight-mile bike and 100-meter swim as well as numerous meals together and some Frisbee Golf to stretch out the legs
“We are very pleased with the effort our kids put into our summer workouts and look forward to competing,” stated coach Diaz. “We are really excited across the board and feel our top 6-8 on both teams can really compete this year.”