Cross Country kicks off

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, August 30, 2017
The West Liberty Cross Country team began its season Tuesday, Aug. 22 against Mt. Vernon. While individually the athletes are skilled, their biggest obstacle in 2017 will be numbers.

There are only two members of the boys squad this season, meanwhile the girls have nine members. Accordingly, there are no junior high teams this year, just varsity.

In previous years our numbers would be the opposite,” said Track Coach Mike Czarnecki. “We usually never had a problem with the boys numbers, but always had low girls numbers.”

Cross country lost Kane Newsom and Roberto Negrete for the boys, so it will be up to Aaron Lara, senior, to step and lead. However, both members have experience from the previous season.

Meanwhile the girls didn’t lose any athletes from last season, though they lack experience. Sophomore Jimena Fierro will be the team leader for the girls. Coach Czarnecki expects Lara and Fierro will do well this year.

“I expect the Comets to continue to improve from meet to meet,” said the coach. “The end of year goals are more on an individual basis, where each runner has a meet goal but also three goals to accomplish by the end of the season.”

In cross country the athletes run a 5k (3.1 miles) for every meet, the distance never changes but the terrain depends on where the meet will occur.

It takes five runners to qualify for a team score, meaning the West Liberty girls squad will be up against the rest of the River Valley Conference. As for the two boys, they’ll focus on individual excellence.

The team began practicing two weeks before the school year began. They’ll continue to practice all over town, including the West Liberty Golf Course on Friday mornings.

The team tries to do workouts that will accommodate each run, whether they’re facing miles of hills or flat ground.

“It went well at Mt. Vernon, but we have a lot of work to do,” said Coach Czarnecki. “When I can't get kids to run in the summer that puts us behind just about every team out there.”

So with the boys facing small numbers and the girls facing inexperience it’s a big hill to climb, but the coach knows his athletes are up for the challenge.

“Cross Country is an overlooked sport because of the hype of the football team and volleyball team,” he says. “But it is by far the most rewarding sport there is.”
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