Runners tuning up for European championships
October 11, 2014
ANSBACH, Germany – Almost six months ago, Nicholas Duplessie suffered a spiral fracture in one of his legs during the DODDS European baseball finals. That injury looked to be a major setback for the Ansbach athletic star, especially in the world of cross-country.
His showing at Saturday’s home field match showed that while the injury did indeed slow him down a step, it won’t keep him from this year’s European finals.
Duplessie finished first for the Cougars and fourth overall in the boys 5k. Most importantly, he qualified to move on to Europeans. He knows he has a tough fight ahead of him going into the last few weeks of the season.
“I didn’t do as well as I thought I’d do, I can tell right now that I have a real problem with my endurance. I got to build that up. I didn’t have the mileage base going into the season and that’s been apparent all season,” he said. “I want to get down to the 17 minute time frame for Europeans.”
The rest of the meet went more or less as expected. Black Forest’s Jacob Benjamin edged out Hohenfels’ Jacob Nantz by a little more than a second for first place among the varsity boys with a time of 12 minutes, 52.23 seconds. Benjamin had already qualified for Europeans and said this was more of a training session for that final race at Baumholder later this month. Vilseck’s Eduardo Castaneda rounded out the top three finishers, coming in at 18:11.57.
Ansbach’s Kelly McCaskill was the first place finisher in the girls 5k in 20:26.22, with Michelle Sanchez and Kaili Markley representing Vilseck in the second and third spots, respectively.
“I think I did pretty well,” McCaskill said. “I went out too fast, I learned my pace a little bit better than earlier. The motivation is that this is all a training course after you qualify. So what that means is that you learn different strategies … from all the other courses and you take that with you to Europeans.”
All three girls are moving on to the finals, though that almost didn’t happen for Sanchez.
Vilseck’s top runner almost had to miss the finals due to her father’s PCS move back to the U.S. Her mother made the decision to stay behind to allow her the opportunity go out on top. That move, she said, has given her an extra little nudge of motivation.
“It really makes we want to always do my best,” she said. “Not just for my team but for everybody. I think I’m going to do well [at Europeans] but we’ll see.”
She’s going to have some strong competition from McCaskill, who topped her nearest competition by 2.4 seconds and still had energy enough to run back to motivate fellow Cougar Amber Parker, who nearly couldn’t finish the race. That team cohesiveness is going to make the Ansbach girls squad a tough one to beat in the finals.
“In the end, it all comes down to a team effort” McCaskill said. “Cross-country is one of those sports where it’s a big family at the end. Everyone motivates everyone.”