DHS cross country team is ready to run
The Douglas cross country program will open the season on Friday when the Tigers host the DHS Classic Races at Lampe Park.
As many as 20 schools are expected to compete. The class race will feature four different races for freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Douglas boys’ head coach Keith Cole said he likes the class-race format because it gives his athletes the chance to see how they stack up against the other runners in their age group from across Northern Nevada.
The freshmen boys and girls will start at 3:30 p.m., and will be followed by the sophomores at 4 p.m., the juniors at 4:30 p.m. and the seniors at 5 p.m.
At 2.6 miles, the Lampe Park course will be shorter than the standard 3.1 mile distance for varsity races.
Cole, who is entering his fourth year at DHS, and second-year girls’ head coach Kelly Ackerman are working with their biggest group of cross country runners this fall. More than 30 kids showed up for the first day of official practice last Monday, and Cole said three to five more could come out this week.
More impressive than the raw numbers, Cole and Ackerman said, has been the preseason dedication shown by the DHS athletes.
Cole said all of his returners and about 90 percent of the newcomers participated in voluntary workouts over the summer.
“Most of the kids have been out here and have really been working hard,” Cole said. “Coach Ackerman and I are real excited about how the team looks. They look a lot stronger than they have in the past. The motivation is there. I’m excited about the season.”
Seniors Taryn Joyce-Mendive and Monica Buccambuso return to lead the Douglas girls. Both girls qualified for the State cross country meet as individuals last fall.
“Coach Ackerman and I both think they have a heck of a shot to do that again,” Cole said. “We both feel good about Monica’s and Taryn’s chances this year. Their conditioning is good. If they keep working as they have been, they’re going to be really, really strong later on in the season, which is exactly when we want them to be strong.”
Joyce-Mendive will be looking for her fourth-consecutive trip to State in late October. She and Buccambuso also qualified for the State track and field meet last spring.
“It’s so nice to have girls who have been with the program for four years,” Cole said. “We don’t have to tell them what we need to them do, they know what they need to do. Their leadership is leadership by example: the way they run, the way they practice, the way they stretch. The things they do for this young team to help them understand what is means to be a good cross country are incalculable.”
Senior captain Tyler Hines is leading a talented pack of young runners on the Douglas boys’ side.
Juniors Daniel Sipko, Brian King, Michael King and Greg Mullen also return with varsity cross country and track experience.
Cole said Sipko may have made the biggest improvements since last year.
“He has really come back with a great attitude and a great work ethic,” Cole said. “I am very impressed with how much he improved over the summer.”
The coach added that freshman Elliott McPeek could be one of the biggest surprises at the Northern 4A level this fall. McPeek was undefeated in track and cross country during his middle school career.
“We haven’t seem him compete yet, but I am going to be very curious to see how he does. He has a heck of a talent. The first day of practice he came out and he wasn’t intimidated by these other boys. He came out and ran with them, which, for a freshman, is just fantastic.
“He’s never lost a race and now he’s running with the big dogs. We’ll see how he’s going to do. I’m very encouraged by the things I’ve seen.”
Cole said he could use the help of several volunteers to make sure Friday’s races run smoothly. For information, contact Keith Cole at the high school at 782-5136, ext. 1981.