|Cross country team up in numbers|
by Jacob Lane · September 11, 2013
The West Liberty High School cross country team has improved in numbers, resulting in more beginners this year, according to head coach Mike Czarnecki.
While it's hard to tell how the team will fare in actual competition, he's impressed by the many students participating on the the 2013 team.
"The number of people is up from the last couple of years, we have 16 boys and 10 girls in J.V. and varsity combined," he said."I haven't had more than five girls a year on my team in the last six years I've been coaching."
He believes part of the increase has to do with soccer. There's been a push to get members from the soccer team to participate in track as a way to prepare them for the upcoming soccer season in the year.
"Our Hispanic students tend to play soccer," said Coach Czarnecki. "So we've been trying to get them to do something else to get into shape. This year four of the girls are Hispanic, while 13 of the boys are Hispanic on the team."
However, he believes it's still too early in the year to tell how the team will fare. Basically, the first couple of meets are treated as practice to get a proper feel for how the runners will do for the rest of the season.
"We have a a lot of beginners, so I don't know what I have yet," he said. "But we do have some that stand out."
In a practice run for the team freshman Reghan McNaul finished ahead of all the other girls. "It'll be interesting to see how she stacks against the other girls this year," added the coach.
On the boys' side new runner and senior Joel Fernandez is shaping up to be a pack leader.
After the cross country's first meet against Louisa-Muscatine on Sept. 3, Coach Czarnecki will take the top seven boys and top seven girls and officially put them on the varsity team.
His ultimate goal is to use his larger team to work West Liberty's way up in placing in the River Valley Conference. He hopes to be somewhere in the middle of the pack by the end of the year.
"We've been doing a lot of running to prepare for the season," he said. "In the first week of practice we ran twice a day, at 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m."