Richard Stroud

Grove Sun

With all but one starter back from last year’s Verdigris Valley Conference champions, the Grove Ridgerunners cross-country team looks poised for continued success in 2010.

“We’ll have a solid team all around,” head coach Todd Kerr said. “Ryan Wheatley is just a sophomore but he has a good chance of making All-State. And Josh Wilhelm and Clint Kidd will be good senior leaders for us.”

Finishing in the top-10 at the state meet in October is necessary to receive an All State honor.

The Ridgerunners are expecting to repeat as conference champions, and Wilhelm for one thinks the team can make significant noise at state.

“We can be a top-five team,” Wilhelm said.

While many of the runners are the same from last year, one thing that is different for the cross-country teams this year is their training regimen.

“We started a program that’s called a 3-2 program,” Kerr said. “We do three hard runs a week instead of running five-six times a week. So it’s a lot less mileage. Studies have shown that running kids a lot actually leads to a lot of injuries. It’s bad for their joints and actually makes them slower. But when we do run it’s real pace-oriented.”

Blair Thomas of the girls’ squad could be one who benefits from the decrease in mileage. As a sophomore two years ago Thomas finished second at the regional meet and looked to have a good chance of finishing in the top five at state. But a poor run at the state meet kept her out of contention.

“She should’ve got All State two years ago,” Kerr said. “She just had her worst race of the year at state. If she had ran the same time that she ran at regionals she would’ve done really well.”

“I think I was just doing too much,” Thomas said. “I plan on cutting back this year. I want to do better than last year and be more consistent.”

Though the overall numbers for the Lady Red remain thin with just six runners overall, Kerr likes the chances of Thomas and freshman Michaela Werner to do well.

“Those are two with a good chance to make All State,” Kerr said.

In addition to Thomas and Werner, track standout Caitlin Bales has also joined the squad.

“We ought to have a pretty good season,” Kerr said.

The GHS cross-country teams will open their seasons with a meet at Coweta on October 3. They will be running in eight regular season meets overall with regionals scheduled for October 23 followed by the state meet the following week.