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Off to a running start
Tommie harriers apply creativity
As far as high school sports go, cross country can be a pretty tough sell.
The commonest perception is that we go out and run 10 miles every day, said M-P coach Randy Edens. We tailor our program to different backgrounds.
The challenge of luring athletes away from popular sports like soccer and football has forced coaches like Edens to get creative. He said the successful Snohomish program uses destination meets as bait to convince kids to give cross-country a try.
And Edens M-P team hopes to achieve something similar with a midseason trip to Portland to compete in the Nike Pre-Nationals. Closer to home, the Tomahawks also plan to host their first-ever Twilight Meet this year. The meet, which could well have runners competing in the dark, kicks off the first of five races at 5:15 p.m.
Having the meet at night will be a nice change, Edens said. I think the kids are just excited to run it.
Edens expects the meet to draw about 20 teams in its first run. The Sept. 22 meet should be one of the first opportunities of the season for the Tommies to measure themselves against conference competition.
If all goes as it has in recent history, the girls of M-P cross-country should be a force. In 1998, cross country gave M-P its lone team state title. This year, led by senior captains Haley Nemra and Robin Mueller, the squad comes off back-to-back state appearances. The girls side is an experienced team, according to their coach.
Weve grown up with this group of seniors and have added some juniors and sophomores, Edens said.
The girls have something to run for this year. In addition to being a senior-heavy team, theres a perception that they underperformed at state last year.
Two years ago the girls took 11th at state and last year we took 10th, Edens explained. The first year we were just happy to be there. The second year was kind of disappointing. Wed hoped to be at least eighth.
The neighboring Lakewood Cougars also have high hopes this season, many of them pinned upon the success of Sarah Dunn, who has run the girls 5k in 20.52. The two teams will meet at this years Hole in the Wall Invitational at Lakewood High School Oct. 10.
While Edens is confident in his group of athletes, the job of seeking out talented runners to replenish the ranks each season never seems far from his mind.
While guys tend to develop as runners over their high school careers, girls can have an impact as early as their freshman season.
I think the last couple of years weve been one athlete away from giving Snohomish a good run, Edens said.
Coach Edens also coached the Lake Stevens girls basketball team to second place in Wesco North last winter.
In 1998, the cross country team gave M-P its first-ever team state championship. Its a feat yet to be duplicated by another Tomahawk team.
Want to catch a glimpse of the team, but dont want to travel to Portland? Theyll be running near home at Cedarcrest Golf Course Sept. 22 and Oct. 11, and at Lakewood High School Oct. 6 and Oct. 20.
After much student-driven fundraising, the Cougar cross country team will travel to Hawaii where they will compete in the Iolani Cross Country Invitational Sept. 22.
Want to catch a glimpse of the team, but dont want to travel to Oahu? Theyll be running near home when Lakewood hosts the Hole-In-The-Wall Invitational Oct. 6 and the Cascade Conference divisionals Oct. 20. Theyll also run in Marysville at the North County Relays Oct. 11 at Cedarcrest Golf Course.
The girls team can only capitalize on their success this year of the 19 girls running this season, senior Sarah Dunn is the only member of the class of 2008.