Cross country programs prepare to hit ground running
Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 17, 2023
By Dan Kibler
For the Clemmons Courier
Could this be the year when a West Forsyth cross country team is among the best in North Carolina, a common result for a handful of years — a handful of years ago?
“I think we’re a top-10 team,” Coach Nathan Newsome said of his girls team, which finished eighth in Class 4A last year. “Could we be a top-5 team? I’ll know by about the first of October.”
Both the girls and boys teams finished second in the Central Piedmont 4A a year ago, but Newsome has lost a lot of talent off that boys team and has a ton of talent back on the girls team — plus two breakthrough newcomers.
“I think our girls are going to be pretty good,” Newsome said. “Our boys are a lot younger, but they might be pretty good — and the conference on the boys’ side may be the most even I’ve ever seen.”
Into that boys’ mix, Newsome starts with senior Colby Groce, juniors Shane Cornett and Jack Harrison and sophomore Gunar Douglass, who were in the Titans’ top seven a year ago. But he’s missing the top three runners, all of whom graduated, and he’s afraid that replacements might be a little way down the road.
“Usually, the top incoming ninth graders are not game-changers among the boys,” Newsome said. “But our group might wind up pretty good. I think we’ll have a good group of ninth graders who can fill out our top seven.”
On the girls’ side, Newsome is a lot more confident. His top runner from last year, junior Lulu Serang, is back, along with seniors Abby Reutinger and Lily Douglas and sophomore Dempsey Baldini. And he’s added freshmen Tatum Snow and Lily Baugh to a team that finished eighth in the Class 4A state meet last year.
“The girls are a little more experienced with the boys; you know where they stack up,” he said. “Last year, we had really good spacing between our two five runners; No. 1 and No. 5 were maybe only 30 seconds apart. We had a pack-running team. If we can do that again… Now, if we’re all running from 19:15 to 19:45 (at the 5K cross-country distance), we’re probably not a top-5 team, but if we’re all running 18:45 to 19:15, yes, we’re a top-5 team.
“Lulu and Abby were both running right at 19 minutes last year. Lulu has had a better summer — her mileage is up — and she’ll likely run in the 18s, but will it be 18-high or 18-low? If Lulu stays healthy, I think she can get better.
“Abby has always played club soccer, and she’s always been banged up from that, but she’s not playing this year. Now, she won’t have that competitive edge from soccer, but she won’t be banged up. And Lily Douglas ran 18:45 as a sophomore, but she had an injury that kept her out most of last year. They’re all pretty good.”
Freshmen Snow and Baugh could significantly impact the team’s fortunes, Newsome said.
“They are both very good freshmen,” he said. “They’ll make us really good. Tatum is new to the area, but they both ran at Meadowlark (Middle School) last year, and they were No. 2 and 3 in the middle-school distance groups.
“I expect by late October or early November to know how we’re going to do,” he said. “I hope we’ll have all of our top-5 in a 30-second spacing. But our regional (midwest) is the region of death. We have Cuthbertson (defending state champion), Marvin Ridge (third in the state), Weddington (fourth in the state) and Mount Tabor (sixth in the state). We could be the sixth-best team in the state and be the sixth-best team in the regional.”
8/14 – Wonder Relays 2023 (Charlotte)
8/19 – Hwy. 24 Light Up the Night (Newport)
8/26 – Oak Grove Grizzly Growler (Kernersville)
8/30 – Norman Trzaskoma Invitational (Kernersville)
9/8 – Friday Nigh Lights XC Festival (Kernersville)
9/16 – Adidas XC Challenge (Cary)
10/7 – Wendy’s Invitational (Charlotte)