North Summit cross country teams want to contend
Girls go for fifth straight title, boys look for first since 2003
The Park Record
The North Summit High School girls cross country team has been dominant for the last four years at the Class 2A level.
Winners of four consecutive state titles, the Braves expect to be a contender year in and year out. With Sadie Sargent and Maggie Zwahlen — who finished first and second, respectively, at last year’s state championships — returning for their senior seasons, that goal should remain the same.
However, the fact the team lost four seniors, three of whom were members of the scoring squad at state last season, could put a wrench in the plans to make it five consecutive championships.
“I just don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Dave Peck, the team’s head coach. “I have freshmen girls and I have two junior girls, but they certainly aren’t as strong as those seniors [from last year], who I’ll certainly miss.”
Peck expects Alicia Smith and Allie Boyer to be two runners who will help make up for the team’s losses.
Smith was hurt for much of last season but was able to qualify for the track and field state championships in the mile run two years ago as a freshman. Boyer, on the other hand, was seventh in the pecking order at state last season, and Peck hopes she can improve.
“Hopefully those two girls will be able to somewhat fill the shoes of these seniors that left,” he said.
While the lineup may be a bit of an unknown, Sargent and Zwahlen have been grinding away over the summer to become the team’s leaders.
There’s not much room for the duo to improve as far as placing, considering they nabbed the two highest individual finishes at last year’s championships, but that hasn’t stopped them from pushing their limits, Peck said.
“Both Sadie and Maggie are working pretty hard,” he said. “In fact, I’ll give the boys a workout and Maggie will be right there with the boys. She just really wants to have a good senior year. Of course, Sadie is working really hard to try and get a scholarship to one of the local colleges, so she’s really pushing herself also.”
Speaking of the boys team, it’s in some ways played second fiddle to the girls squad for the last half-decade. It hasn’t won a state championship since 2003, but Peck feels that the boys are long overdue.
“I think these boys are just really excited,” he said. “They’re really motivated this year. They started their training about the third week in June, running three days per week. But now they’ve started running every day. I’m pushing them a little bit this year, more so than I did last year. Hopefully they’ll be able to respond and do well.”
Last year, the team finished in third place at the state meet — a good performance to build on — but it also lost its best runner Jace Richins, who secured the top spot in the race as a senior. However, Peck feels the trio of incoming seniors — Cody White, Seth Brown and Tayte Staples — will be able to pick up the slack.
White, Brown and Staples finished in 10th, 19th and 23rd places, respectively, at least year’s state championships, providing the Braves with a decent pack at the front of their scoring five.
After that, the roster is a bit of question mark, but Peck believes this could be the year that both the girls and boys teams contend for a title.
“There’s an excitement that we’re feeling for both the girls and the boys,” he said. “They both have an excellent chance of doing quite well.”
The North Summit girls and boys cross-country teams started their season on Aug. 12 at the Premier Invite.
The teams will continue their seasons on Aug. 26 at the Grass Relays at Westlake High School. Races are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.
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