SPRINGFIELD TWP. – A runner’s feet are important. They’re definitely on a short list ranking importance in a sport like cross country.
St. Xavier senior Austin Angeline knows too well how important they are. He knows this because last year a broken toe ended his season short of the postseason in October.
Coach Andy Wietmarschen said he’s seen a sense of urgency from Angeline this year in returning from injury. That urgency paid off Oct. 24 when he ran the third-fastest time (16:07.8) at the Division I district meet at Voice of America Park.
“He’s been a great leader for us, this year, keeping the guys in mind,” Wietmarschen said, “there’s definitely a sense of urgency (after his injury), not saying the other guys don’t have that, but it’s in the forefront of his mind (that) this is his last chance.
“Chris (Reischel) shares that urgency, he and Austin have been great training partners throughout the season.”
Reischel, a junior, was second at the district meet in a time of 16:04.8 to help the Bombers win a district championship and a spot at the regional meet Oct. 31.
The Bombers also had sophomore Jonathan Stansbury run 16:24.4 for eighth place, junior Will Morgan was 10th (16:31.2) and sophomore Peter Dauenhauer in 13th (16:37.6). Junior Liam McGrath came in at 15th in 16:44.0. Sophomore Michael Holly was 28th 17:10.7.
There were 96 runners in the second race at districts, and St. X had six runners finish in the top-15.
“To be honest, at the beginning of the season I didn’t really know what we were gonna have coming back with so many new faces on varsity,” said Wietmarschen. “With the way they’ve run throughout the year, these guys have come to expect a certain level of performance.”
Wietmarschen said he’s watched his team add the mental dimension of racing to its repertoire, “which is great to see.”
As a former runner, Wietmarschen said a part of him still wants to go out and run for his team. But, he said, having such an experienced group makes this time of year easier. There’s no coddling, the boys in blue know what to do.
At the beginning of the season, the goal was for La Salle cross country to advance back to the state meet and contend with the best. The Lancers are on pace to do that with the regional race up next.
La Salle finished runner-up as a team at the Division I district meet Oct. 24 at Voice of America Park to qualify to the regional meet Oct. 31 in Troy. Last season, the Lancers were third at the district meet and ended up sixth in the region, a couple spots shy of the state meet.
“All of our training and racing during the regular season is intended to prepare us for the championship season,” La Salle coach Frank Russo said. “This has been a special group … knowing where we were just three years ago and the commitment and effort they’ve put in to grow and improve during that time (and working to) get us back to where we were in the 90s and the first decade of the 2000s. This group is a reflection of many of the past championship teams – a blue-collar work ethic, and competitive spirit has brought them to a place they want to be.”
At the district meet, a strong senior class led the way with Brad Anneken out in front. Anneken finished fourth in a time of 16:15.7. Senior Nick Wuestefeld ran sixth in 16:23.6, followed by Frank Pierce in ninth with a 16:30.3 and Jason Handley in 12th with a time of 16:36.1. Junior Camren Sewell finished 23rd in 16:57.4.
“We felt confident (at the district race) in our ability to compete for a team title, given our experience the week before at the GCL meet,” Russo said. “These past two weeks, although we came up short, left us with a confidence that the best is yet to come.”
Part of what Russo preaches to his team is to “believe in themselves; trust their training; be smart early in the race; focus on position, and nothing behind you matters.”
“We don’t have to do anything special,” Russo said. “If we continue to compete at the level we have the last several weeks, we will advance to the state championship.”