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Maconaquah boys' cross country eyes move up the ladder at TRC, sectional

BOURNE RUNNER: Maconaquah junior Sam Bourne returns as the team’s highest finisher of the season, returning after qualifying for the Culver Military Academy boys’ cross country regional last season. Bourne will be leading an experienced group of runners who aim to join in on the regional action as a group in 2018.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

A pair of middle-of-the-pack finishes awaited a young Maconaquah squad at both the TRC and boys’ cross country sectional meets last year.

With a year of added experience, the Braves will look to overcome the loss of three seniors and an unexpected departure to try and improve their standing at both major meets at the end of the season.

Maconaquah boys’ cross country head coach Chris Edgington said the returning runners came into practice in a better spot than 12 months ago.

“We’re farther ahead this year than we were last year,” Edgington said. “We’ve got a couple of incoming runners that are natural runners and though they haven’t trained as much, they’re running with the lead pack.

“We’ve got several guys who have worked very hard over the summer. Overall, there’s been more work done this summer than last summer, so we feel like were farther along than we were a year ago.”

Changes from the IHSAA regarding the amount of time teams could work during the summer helped out according to Edgington.

“We had four available practices a week over the summer instead of just two, so there were more chance for guys to run together as a team,” Edgington noted. “We had four-to-six guys out consistently running three and four times a week.”

The Braves saw three seniors in Fletcher Williams, Jordan and Josh Edgington all depart while regional qualifier Caleb Winegardner elected not to return to the team.

Maconaquah still returns a large amount of runners from the squad heading into 2018, headlined by another regional qualifier in Sam Bourne, along with seniors Zach Alvarado, Noah Edgington and Jacob Edwards, juniors Dalton Farnell, Billy Miles, Aaron Nice, Kolson Silcox, Evan Baldwin and Jeremiah Moore and sophomores Feenix Kile, Steven Ramer, Tyler Archer and Caleb Kaufman.

Junior Blake Kinney, sophomores Jordan Waldmann and Trenton Cobble and freshmen Jonah Loshnowsky and Luke Stage join the squad this season.

Edgington said despite a few key departures, several runners were showing they were more than capable of filling the open spots.

“Sam has been running like a beast over the summer,” Edgington said. “He’s on track to lead the team this year and I expect his time to drop by a minute this year.

“The advantage of learning how to pace-and-race is going to be very helpful for the guys this year. Jacob is going to be a great racer this year as a senior as he’ll be able to control his pace better this year.

“Caleb and Zach are going to be good frontrunners as well,” Edgington added. “The experience of pacing and racing is going to help us.”

Edgington added he expected several of the JV and newer runners to push for places as the season goes along.

“Aaron has been running a lot this summer and we feel like this is going to be a breakthrough year for him,” Edgington said. “Blake is a new runner who is going to do great for us.

“Steven is starting off a lot better for us this year and we feel like there are several others who are going to have good seasons.”

While a few of the departures made the challenges ahead more difficult, Edgington said the team had strong goals in mind this season and expected the runners to do what they could to make them happen.

“We definitely know from some of the things we’ve talked about that the guys want to make it to the regional as a team,” Edgington pointed out. “Just like in the sectional, we feel like we can bump up a level and compete for a top-three spot in the TRC.

“Another thing we want to do is be competitive at our own meet. The Maconaquah Invitational tends to draw some high-quality teams and we want to be competitive here at home.

“Building a solid team is important and the freshmen we have coming in are proof that it works,” Edgington added. “We just want to continue doing that.”