Men’s cross country makes state for third straight year

Men's cross country junior runners Sam Berg, Jimmy Rizzo, Dillon Williams and senior Brian Cole take off at the beginning of the State Championship. (Photo by Mark Schierbecker)

Pete Forsee
Staff Writer

There wasn’t much training in the 2008-09 off-seasons.  Improving running techniques and endurance wasn’t practiced for the current cross country runners.  Implementing an off-season program this past winter is the reason the 2011 cross country team was stronger, said junior Jimmy Rizzo.

“We started off only running 20 miles each week, but by the time the off-season was closing we were running close to 50 miles a week,” said Rizzo.

“We learned how to train from guys like (graduate) Tom Chenault.  It’s made us a much stronger team program and should continue to,” he later added.

Although the squad finished 16th in this year’s State Championship race, the future is still promising.

The Statesmen will have five of their seven starting runners return next season.   Those runners include juniors Dillon Williams, Sam Berg and Rizzo.  Sophomore Nick Gilbert will also play a vital role next fall.

 “The big issue is we’ve got to be stronger,” said Coach Dan Sebben.

“The race this year went out so fast, our guys just got gasped and never recovered,” Sebben added.

The Statesmen’s average running time in the State race would have landed them in sixth place in the Class 3 brackets, proving just how strong Class 4 cross country is.

“There are 94 schools in Class 4, and we’re only the 76th largest of those schools, so some the others are twice our size,” said Sebben.

In 2012, the Statesmen will bring promising experience and motivation in hopes to return to the State finals for the fourth consecutive year.  This past fall proved to be a statement that men’s cross country is on the rise.

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