Lakewood cross country loaded with talent

LAKEWOOD — The secret to Lakewood’s cross country success is pretty simple.

The Cougars just don’t stop running.

Many of Lakewood’s runners kept their training up over the summer, as has become the custom.

“I would say we have maybe on average 20 to 30 kids that would show up and go running,” said Lakewood coach Jeff Sowards about the program’s daily open workouts that often include alumni and parents.

When you don’t stop moving, it makes it difficult for others to keep up, and the Lady Cougars are in a good position to prove it in 2010.

“They have worked extremely hard over the summer,” Sowards said of the girls. “This is an incredibly talented group of girls. They are as well rounded as any we’ve had. They get along and are physically and mentally prepared.”

The Cougars return a number of runners from the 2009 group that finished ninth in the Class 2A state meet, starting with senior Chelsea Stokes.

“She’s very tenacious and very goal-oriented,” Sowards said of Stokes, who is a team captain. “She can be impatient, and she’d be the first to tell you that, but I think that impatience drives her to excel.”

Stokes finished 20th last year at state. Typically not too far behind Stokes is junior Rachel Cundy, who finished 26th at state and Ariel Jensen.

Also likely showing up in varsity races are Mikaela Skiles and senior newcomer Kelsey Anderson, a senior who made the state track meet in both the 800-meter race and was the school’s top miler.

As far as the boys are concerned, they will be trying for their 27th straight state appearance and rebounding from their fourth-place finish in 2009.

Helping them do that will be Trent Tresch, Avery Jensen, Kris Mugrage that helped the Cougars earn that placing at state. And Sowards said he expects impacts coming from Peter Espenoza and Chris Goutte.

Sowards said his boys have talent to continue their state, but there will be a bit of a learning curve, as four of Lakewood’s state team graduated.

“Overall we’re going to be young, and that doesn’t give us the horsepower we’ve had recently to be so successful, but I think we’re going to be alright,” he said.

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