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Jefferson x-country looking for another South title
By CASEY OLSON
Paul Ruston has built one of the best cross country programs in the South Puget Sound League at Jefferson. Last year, the Raiders boys and girls teams went a combined 16-0 to win a pair of SPSL South titles and this year Ruston has 53 boys and girls turning out and his teams return several of their top runners.
Also, a majority of the runners participated in a summer training program, which includes taking the varsity team to Bozeman, Mont. for nine days of three workouts per day.
On the girls side, the Raiders top returners include seniors Tera Brockman and Amy Miller and juniors Jessica Schroeder, Erin Schroeder, Alyson Hunt and Chelsea Dier.
Last year, Jessica Schroeder was named first-team All-SPSL, placed 56th at the Class 4A meet and won the All-City Meet. Brockman placed 47th at state and Hunt finished 62nd. Hunt was also first-team All-SPSL.
The team should be stronger than last year, Ruston said. We are returning six from last years ninth-place state meet team and last years JV runners are much improved.
The only weakness Ruston sees with the girls is fewer ninth-graders turning out than in years past.
On the boys side, the Raiders top returner is senior Kyle Anderson, who was named first-team All-SPSL a season ago and placed 38th at the state meet. Also back will be senior Bryce Gravel, a second-team All-SPSL performer.
We have great dedication during our summer training, Ruston said. But we are returning only two of our top-seven from last years team. Our boys team is looking forward to races.
Some key newcomers will be junior Brad Eylander and sophomores Erik Church and Serge Marchenko.
The Todd Beamer Titan cross country team and coach Scott Haines are excited about getting started in the SPSL South.
I am really impressed by our young squad of runners, Haines said. These kids are motivated and working hard.
Haines will field a full squad of freshmen, sophomores and juniors and guesses his team will finish in the middle of the SPSL South pack. The boys will be lead by sophomores Ryan Canfield and Tyler Eidsmoe and the girls will rely on sophomores Jennie Reilly and McKinnley Williams. Only seven girls are currently on the Titan roster, but that is enough to field a six-person varsity team.
We should have a few surprises, Haines said.
Heather Kreier was a little shocked when she showed up for the Decatur Gators first cross country practice two weeks ago. Only 24 runners greeted her, including only seven girls.
Our weakness is our numbers, said Kreier, who coaches both the boys and girls. With the new pay-for-play, $70 per sport, it equals less people coming out for cross country.
Cross country has been a sport which has received last-minute participants who want to play something, but dont feel comfortable competing in the other fall sports, like football, soccer or volleyball. Also, cross country runners are known for recruiting their friends onto the team to have somebody to talk to during the long practice runs. The new $70 fee for playing a sport in the Federal Way school district really discourages those attitudes.
We have a close knit group of athletes, Kreier said. A family team.
The coach will be looking to senior Shaun Helm to lead the boys team. Helm placed 14th at last years West Central District Meet and qualified for the state meet. Other strong runners include seniors Travis Hoeft, John Tavares, Keith Williams and Gianpaolo Boccato. Key newcomers are Vince Arbicor and Paul Sowers. Decatur finished 6-2 last year good for second place behind Jefferson.
On the girls side, the small Gator squad will be led by sophomore Becky Williams. Williams finished up in 10th at the district meet and also ran at state as a freshman. The girls ended last year 1-7 in the South Puget Sound League South Division.
The Gators open their season on Sept. 17 when they travel to Rogers High School to battle Kent-Meridian, Auburn, Sumner and Rogers in a non-league meet.
The Federal Way cross country team is suffering from the Beamer Factor. According to coach Jean Licari, the Eagles lost a lot of their would-be runners to the new Federal Way high school. The Eagles used to draw from Illahee Junior High, which is now Beamer territory.
We have had a slow beginning of the season and are still in the process of recruiting more athletes, Licari said. We are very small and have few returners due to the opening of Todd Beamer.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com.