CAMP ZAMA, Japan — They enjoyed a remarkable run of success, Zama American’s All-American Andrew Quallio capturing two straight Far East high school cross-country meet boys gold medals and Nile C. Kinnick’s Nadine Mulvany and Gee Mi Jorde taking the past three girls golds.
But that run has ended. Quallio is now running for the Air Force Academy. Mulvany graduated last June and Jorde transferred after her freshman 2007-08 school year. And no stars appear on the horizon to replace any of them.
How do you replace the irreplaceable?
"I don’t know that there’s a way," Zama seventh-year coach Mitch Moellendick said. "You take what you have, push them along to be the best they can be. Everything has to come to an end. You can’t live in the past."
Mulvany and Jorde helped create a culture of success at Kinnick that resulted in 35 runners coming out for the team this year. Unfortunately for coach Philip Bailey, none of the girls are standouts, yet.
"We’re looking for middle-school runners to not PCS before they become more seasoned," Bailey said. "I gotta have my girl. I don’t have one this year. But we’re building."
Many of the 12 DODEA Pacific teams are in pretty much the same state, with the "Help Wanted" shingle hanging outside their coaches’ offices.
Some have a strong boys contingent; others, a strong girls squad. Some have both. Some have neither.
Whatever the situation, "you enjoy the people that you have," Moellendick said. "The kids you get are great kids, no matter what."
So who will step up to fill the shoes of Mulvany, Jorde and Quallio?
Several coaches have proclaimed as "wide open" the Far East boys’ and girls’ 3.1-mile races at Gosser Memorial Golf Course at northern Japan’s Misawa Air Base on Nov. 9.
The long march to the Far East championships began in Japan and South Korea with Saturday meets at Tama Hills Recreation Center and International Christian School-Uijongbu. Guam’s season began in late August. Okinawa’s opened on Wednesday at Kadena Air Base’s Jack’s Place Course.
There, Kubasaki sophomore Jessica Powell stunned the girls field by upsetting two-time Okinawa Activities Council champion and Far East runner-up Chasity Cordova of Kadena. Dragons coach Paul Campbell terms Powell a pleasant surprise, after her pedestrian freshman season.
Six of the top 15 boys and eight of the top 15 girls Far East finishers are back, led by boys runner-up Patrick Edwards of Kadena and girls fourth-place runner Amanda Henderson.
Edwards transferred from Kubasaki to defending team champion Seoul American, which sports returnee Dorothy Krebill (seventh) and several young newcomers. Thomas Kim (10th) headlines Seoul’s boys lineup.
"The girls will be strong. The boys will be somewhat depleted. We have to develop depth on the boys side," Falcons coach Steve Boyd said.
Seoul and Kadena have won every Class AA team title since 2002. Kadena coach Tom McKinney feels his Panthers can make another charge but have plenty of opposition along the way.
"It’s wide open, but there are teams with runners who can take it," McKinney said of team and individual golds.
Coach Andre Thibert of defending Class A team champion and Far East meet host Robert D. Edgren feels his team has enough experience in Jacob Sterry and Justin Arrington, and new talent in three-sport star Ashley Hawkins and freshman Chloe Youtsey, to make another title run.
"Our goal is to defend the title (and) create new traditions," Thibert said. "Our focus is on teambuilding and preparing to defend the title."
Kadena Panthers, Kadena Air Base
Coach-Tom McKinney, seventh season, six Okinawa Activities Council titles, three Far East meet team titles.
Key performers-Boys, Patrick Edwards, Sr. (second in Far East last year); Jacob Bishop, Jr. (sixth in Far East last year); Tomas Sanchez, Jr. (16th in Far East last year). Girls, Chasity Cordova, Sr. (two-time defending Far East runner-up); Andrea Grade, Jr. (eighth in Far East last year); Alyssa Burchill, Fr.
Overview-Always contending for both the league and Far East team titles. Largest DODEA Pacific school holds the most team golds and is primed to chase another.
Kubasaki Dragons, Camp Foster
Coach-Paul Campbell, eighth season.
Key performer-Jessica Powell, So.
Overview-Rebuilding. Dragons continue to hemorrhage talent, with Amanda Henderson the latest departure to Seoul American. Powell, Kubasaki’s track and field distance star last spring, looms as the team’s next great hope.
Guam High Panthers, Asan
Coach-Joseph Taitano, fifth season.
Key performers-Boys, Michael Tougher, Sr.; Gerald Smith, Sr.; Christian Mundell, Sr. Girls, Susan Smith, Jr. (15th in Far East last year); Meagan Speck, So.; Alexis Bosworth, Fr.
Overview-Rebuilding-reloading. Thin in experience, but so far, the Panthers have shown surprising strength. Girls are 3-0 and have already beaten defending island champion George Washington 27-30. Boys are 2-1 thus far.
Yokota Panthers, Yokota Air Base
Coach-Vincent Szilagyi, fourth season.
Key performers-Boys, Jimmy Niescier, Sr.; Cristian Heimlich, Sr.; Michael Falkner, So.; Ryan Kingshepard, Sr. (transfer from Europe). Girls, Genel Abordo, Sr.; Anneka Heimlich, So.; Keleka Mobley, So.; Gabby Baker, So.
Overview-Reloading. Losing Far East runner-up Trey Sauls hurts, but Szilagyi is happy with his veterans and promising newcomers. Panthers program may be turning the corner.
Zama American Trojans, Camp Zama/Naval Air Facility Atsugi
Coach-Mitch Moellendick, seventh season.
Key performers-Boys, Jake Harris, Sr.; Bob Novak, Sr. Girls, Ariana Range, Sr.
Overview-The mother of all rebuilding jobs. Starting with two-time Far East boys champion, All-American Andrew Quallio, and top-20 girls runner Mallarie Ashliman, Moellendick must find a boatload of replacement parts quickly.
Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils, Yokosuka Naval Base
Coach-Philip Bailey, fourth season.
Key performers-Boys, David Bailey, Jr. (14th at Far East last year), Jesse Arnold, Sr.; Marcus Boehler, So.
Overview-Boys reloading, girls rebuilding. Coach Bailey has his largest contingent ever, 35 runners, but most are young and learning, especially the girls, who must replace departed Far East champions Nadine Mulvany and Gee Mi Jorde.
Seoul American Falcons, Yongsan Garrison
Coach-Steve Boyd, second season.
Key performers-Boys, Thomas Kim, Sr. (10th in Far East last year); Mark Whitten, Sr.; Andrew Murphy, Jr.; Anthony Chatineau, Jr.; Robbie Goodpastor, Sr. Girls, Dorothy Krebill, Jr. (seventh in Far East last year); Amanda Henderson, So. (fourth in Far East last year; transfers from Kubasaki); Siarria Ingram, Fr.; Kristy Taylor, Sr.; Jessica Wenzel, Fr.; Sally Lee, Fr.
Overview-Contending, especially the girls. Kim should be the brightest light among the guys. Krebill and Henderson headline a girls squad infused with three freshmen already posting competitive times. Boyd sets high standards for any team he coaches. Many are members of Seoul Track Club, which trains year round.
Matthew C. Perry Samurai, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
Coach-Jerry Devalle, first season.
Key performer-Boys, Marcus Crawford, So.; Nick Krenek, So.; Matt Smith, So.; Trevor Wentling, Sr.
Overview-Rebuilding. Fourth coach in as many seasons must somehow fill the hole vacated by injured All-Far East senior Cole Miller.
E.J. King Cobras, Sasebo Naval Base
Coach-Tom Heitstuman, sixth season.
Key performers-Boys, Kevin Drake, Sr.; Travis Long, Jr.; Nathan Farley, Jr. Girls, Rachel Poluhowich, So.; Alyssa Turner, Fr.; Tara Long, Fr.
Overview-Rebuilding/reloading. Should do as well, if not better, than they did last season, middle of the small schools pack.
Robert D. Edgren Eagles, Misawa Air Base, Japan
Coach-Andre Thibert, seventh season.
Key performers-Boys, Jacob Sterry, So.; Justin Arrington, Jr.; Aaron Cotts, Sr. (transfer from Tennesses); T.J. Adamson, Fr. Girls, Jordan Schwartz, So.; Ashley Hawkins, Sr.; Kiana Freysinger, So.; Chloe Youtsey, Fr.
Overview-Reloading in DODDS-Japan, contending for second straight Far East Class A crown. Good mix of solid veterans and promising newcomers portend good things for Eagle Country in the present and future.
Osan American Cougars, Osan Air Base
Coach-David Hemmer, first season.
Key performers-Boys, Brian Raab, Jr.; Joseph Shin, Sr.; D.J. Cave, Sr.; Josh Hanks, Jr.; Justin Conner, Jr.; Travis Wyatt, So.; Dalton Rimmer, So.; Phillip Waltzer, So. Girls, Kim Boucher, Sr. (10th in Far East last year); Jamie Edwards, Sr.; Makayla Hockenberry, Jr.; Vivien Jung, Jr.; Ashley Wyche, Jr.; Nicole Solomonson, So. (transfer from Seoul American, 12th in Far East last year); Andrea Duffield, So.; Breanna Drummond, Fr.
Overview-Rebuilding. Many new faces augment two lone returners in Raab and Bouchet. They’ve looked strong in the early going; question will be who else will develop, and how quickly.
Daegu American, Camp George
Coach-Larry Knierim, fifth season.
Key performer-Melia Lagat, So. (13th in Far East last year).
Overview-Rebuilding. Another small squad of 19 runners, with plenty of youngsters hoping to replace the likes of departed Evan Lobeto, among others.
Significant dates this season
Saturday, Oct. 17
Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools championship meet at Tama Hills Recreation Center, Tokyo, 9 a.m.
Friday, Oct. 23-Saturday, Oct. 24
Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam All-Island Cross-Country Championship, site to be determined
Saturday, Oct. 24
Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Japan meet, Robert D. Edgren High School, Misawa Air Base, 9 a.m.
Saturday, Oct. 31
Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference championship cross-country meet, International Christian-Uijongbu, 10 a.m.
Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, invitational, 9 a.m.
Monday, Nov. 9-Tuesday, Nov. 10
Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific Far East High School Cross-Country Meet, Gosser Memorial Golf Course, Misawa Air Base, Japan