High school cross country runners prepare for the long road to Europeans
Alconbury coach Gary Bartimus always has admired students who go out for cross country.
“They tend to be very motivated,” he said.
Of course, one would have to be motivated to run up to eight miles a day most days of the week. This positive outlook on running also can work into other facets of life, including school work, he said.
“As a coach, I think that they’re the best-kept secret in high school sports,” he said.
Bartimus and other U.K. cross country coaches look to lean on their dedicated runners this year in search of a European title.
Alconbury Dragons: Division IVAfter taking a long departure from coaching, school librarian Bartimus is back to molding cross country athletes at Alconbury.
Bartimus, who has about a decade of experience in coaching the sport, has a squad of nine runners this year.
Too early in the season to give a definite answer, however, Bartimus believes that his five boy runners will be a fairly close and consistent group.
“They have the ability to run together and are competent runners,” he said.
Staying with each other in a fast-running pack is especially important during meets where victories can also be measured in team-scoring, not just individually.
“It’s for encouragement, strategy,” he said about the running tactic.
Senior Jonathan Schappert and junior Brandon Geronimo could be leading that pack, and with practice, freshman Ernesas Tyminas could be running alongside them, Bartimus said.
“I think he’s going to be a strong runner. Once he gets his form, he’ll be able to run well with these guys,” he said.
It’s up in the air right now on the girls side, but Bartimus said that first-year Alconbury runner Mary Kate Repetski, a junior, could lead the way for the girls squad this season.
Lakenheath Lancers: Division ICoach John Gilmore will have numerous choices of talented boys and girls when he hand- picks squads from the more than 40 runners participating this year.
He anticipates that the team’s boys could be even more competitive with the record-breaking Greg Billington out of the spotlight. Billington led last year’s squad to a fifth-place finish in Europeans.
Big things are expected from senior Josh Hoffman, junior Chris Fraser and sophomore Gabe Flood. Junior Trevor Snapp, sophomore Sean Gallegos and freshman George Waring also have potential to be successful, he said.
The girls look to improve from last year’s sixth- place finish in Europeans.
Junior Brittany Buckingham, who just transferred from Ramstein, will help bolster the girls side this season along with juniors Shelby Whatley and Kaitlin Swanstrom, and sophomore Meagan Searle, he said.
“I think it’ll be a tough team. I’m really looking forward to it,” Gilmore said about the upcoming season.
Menwith Hill Mustangs: Division IVSeven-year cross country coach Larry Bell is hoping to continue the school’s winning tradition this year by adding to its collection of European championship titles.
In his time as coach, boys teams have won three titles and the girls have won one title. However, there are only four boys this year — not enough to compete as a squad this season. But the team’s six-girl squad, with three seniors, will have the opportunity to vie for a title.
“I have been very fortunate to have some great athletes,” Bell said.
One of those athletes is senior Emily Larson, who has returned after placing 10th in Europeans last year.
“She will be in top form again this year,” Bell said.
Larson’s supporting cast will include seniors Danielle Lutes and Jennifer Abing as well as sophomores Katie Claycombe and Isabel DiFranco. Freshman Tori DiFranco has been making fast improvements early in this season, too, he said.
As for the boys, Bell is expecting big things from junior Patrick Roberts and sophomore Donavan Crispo. Freshman Michael Brew could also be a threat, he said.
High school cross country schedule
Sept. 15Lakenheath hosts Alconbury, Menwith Hill, AF North and Shape.
Sept. 22 International School of Brussels hosts Lakenheath, Alconbury, Menwith Hill, Brussels, Shape and St. John’s.
Sept. 29 Menwith Hill hosts Alconbury and Lakenheath.
Oct. 6 Shape hosts Menwith Hill, Alconbury, Lakenheath, Brussels and Ramstein.
Oct. 13 Alconbury hosts Lakenheath and Menwith Hill.
Oct. 20 Heidelberg hosts Ramstein, Frankfurt International School and Lakenheath. Brussels hosts Alconbury, Menwith Hill, International School of Brussels, St. John’s and Shape.
Oct. 27 European Championships at Heidelberg.