Fall Sports Preview — Setting the pace: Boys cross country team returns experienced runners; girls team will be much younger
Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 18, 2022
By Janie Peterson
For the Clemmons Courier
The West Forsyth boys and girls cross country teams are currently tackling very different challenges this season. Both have been working out six mornings a week since June.
“The girls are just so young that they’ll need to help develop a confident culture, where the boys are going to be real eager to prove themselves,” Coach Nate Newsome said.
The boys team is a deep and veteran squad with individual state qualifiers, seniors Wesley Haggstrom and Brandt Doty, as well as other top performers returning.
“The boys are experienced. They’re pretty hungry. They want to do well. They will probably exceed expectations of what others expect. I think they’ll be one of the surprise teams in the state,” Newsome said.
After years of seeing the girls team in the spotlight, Doty is stoked to be part of a boys team with such high promise.
“I think this is going to be the best team we’ve had in a long time,” Doty said.
The girls have had a lot of talent over the years and several of the top seven runners are returning, including individual state qualifier junior Lily Douglass, but they also have a slew of new runners who have yet to tap into their potential.
“I have to kind of manage them with building their confidence towards training as a whole, because if you’re not used to finishing high, you’re kind of OK with being in the middle of the pack, and a lot of times you feel like an imposter,” Newsome said.
Senior captains Sophie Cowart and Tenley Douglass are working to get some good energy going among their teammates.
“I feel like I have to be more conscious about my positivity…making sure I say, ‘good job’ even if I’m out of breath and stuff like that,” Cowart said.
Tenley Douglass, who is expected to be the No. 1 runner for the girls this season, believes that rooting for one another is just as valuable as raw talent.
“We have a lot of new kids on the team, so we’re just working on bonding and cheering for each other. We’re starting to be very good at that, but I think that will be a key element to get that together,” Douglass said.
Both teams are benefitting from an influx of talented athletes who performed well at the middle school level last year. On the boys side, Gunnar Douglass, the third Douglass sibling, is following his sisters’ footsteps and has shown rapid improvement. For the girls, Dempsey Baldini, Ellen Haggstrom, and Hope Newsome were West’s top freshmen finishers at the Appalachian State cross country team camp a few weeks ago.
Sophomore LuLu Serang was the individual champion at the camp race, with Cowart taking second. Haggstrom and Doty took the No. 1 and 2 spots on the boys side. Both the girls and boys teams took first in the race overall, giving the teams some momentum as they head into the season.
“Hopefully we can win some races…hit some PRs (personal records) and just have a fun season. Everybody has room to improve, and we could all just work a little bit harder — focus in more and go easier on the easy days for the recovery part,” Wesley Haggstrom said.
With the Titans’ work ethic, there is no doubt that they will post plenty of PRs this season.
“If being great was easy, everybody would be. The goal is for you as an individual to improve. Just get better. If you’re a little bit better today than you were yesterday and a little better this week than last week, then you win,” Newsome said.
2022 West Forsyth boys cross country team
2022 West Forsyth girls cross country team