It’s a numbers game for Thunder cross country
Woodstock North High School cross country head coach Bruce Farris hopes quality prevails over quantity for his teams this fall. With only 13 runners on the roster — nine boys and four girls — the teams do not have a lot of room for error.
“As usual, we are low in numbers,” Farris said. “However, the core of our team ran 300 to 500 miles this summer, and we are in a lot better position to start the season.”
Farris wants to add at least one more girls team member so they can compete as a team at meets — schools need at least five runners. He hopes to generate some interest when school starts. Last year, the girls team did not have five members until halfway through the season.
The co-captains for the girls team are seniors Becca Einspahr and Madison Fant. Other girls team members are sophomore Brianna Baltes and freshman Isabella Mazzanti.
Farris is excited about Mazzanti, whose mother was a Division 1 scholarship runner in college.
“She ran every day this summer,” he said. “She should be really good.”
Baltes nearly qualified for sectionals last year, finishing sixth at the Kaneland Class 2A regional meet last fall. The top five runners qualified for sectionals.
“She was good last year,” he said. “We’re hoping she can improve.”
If the team finds a fifth member, Farris is hoping WNHS can move up from the bottom of the Fox Valley Conference. For now, he hopes to send as many through to sectionals as possible.
Einspahr said she likes what she saw from her teammates this summer, and as co-captain, needs to show the team she believes in them.
“I think we’re pretty good,” said Einspahr. “We’ve been training hard all summer. … I need to have confidence in everyone and know that they can do their best.”
For the boys team, Farris said juniors Sergio Rodriquez and Cullen Andersen and freshman Jesse Long should battle each other for the top spot. Rodriquez qualified for sectionals his freshman year but was injured last fall. Andersen qualified for sectionals last year. Long won the team’s time trial during the week of Aug. 5 and finished eighth in conference last fall. Farris said Long can be a Fox Valley Conference champion by his junior or senior year.
“They should battle each other throughout the season,” he said. “That will be good for the workouts and meets.”
Seniors Alex Geisler and juniors Zach Delgado and Tristan Smith will battle for the next three positions on the team. Smith is the younger brother of Sydney Smith, who qualified for state in track and field in the spring. Farris said Tristan has the talent, but just needs the motivation.
“He can be good, he just needs to get to where he can push himself,” he said.
Andersen said he sees a big difference between this year’s team and last year’s, but the runners need to believe in themselves and work harder.
“We have a lot stronger team this year,” Andersen said. “We did lots of running [this summer]. Our coach has high expectations for us. We are hoping to get to sectionals as a team. … We have to think we can do it. … Some people need more determination. They have the skill; they just need to buckle down and do it.”
Farris said he believes the boys can move up in the FVC and hopes they can qualify as a team for sectionals.
“I need the boys to make sure on our quality workout days they stick to the task at hand,” Farris said. “They know what to do with the system, and if we get them to follow that, we will be fine.
“If they really push and things come together, by the conference meet we can move up to the middle of the conference. We want to get this boys team to sectionals, but they can’t do it unless they work in the workouts.”
The boys team captains are expected to be named later this week. The rest of the boys team includes seniors Trevor Nomm and Zach Brokaw and sophomore Sam Reuter.
The program has recently purchased a chip timing system, which tracks the exact time of each runner in each race, and Farris wants to make sure the community knows it is available for use for anyone hosting a meet.
The McHenry County meet is Saturday, Aug. 25, at McHenry Township Park, Johnsburg. According to Farris, WHS and WNHS may host the county meet going forward.
With Marty Sobczak retiring as cross country coach at Woodstock High School, Farris is now the primary caretaker of the Emricson Park course and is making some minor changes to the course, using more natural landmarks to mark the trail.