Ring­gold cross coun­try teams look­ing to catch the pack in Re­gion 6-AAA

Walker County Messenger - - Sports - By Scott Herpst

The 2017 Ring­gold Tigers cross coun­try team may not be the largest team the pro­gram as ever fielded, in terms of num­bers, but head coach Joel Svo­boda be­lieves he has a qual­ity ros­ter that just might chal­lenge for one of the four state teams bids from 6-AAA later this sea­son.

“We should have an­other strong boys’ team,” said Svo­boda, who is in his 10th year coach­ing the Tigers, the past three as head coach. “We’ve got about 16 or 17 boys and about eight to 10 of those are solid un­der­class­men. It’s a good group of kids and I think we’ll have a pretty com­pet­i­tive boys’ team by the time re­gion gets here.”

The Tigers grad­u­ated their top fin­isher from last year’s re­gion meet, but bring back sev­eral run­ners who com­peted in the race. Se­nior Ja­cob An­der­son is the top re­turn­ing fin­isher from the 2016 race as he placed 35th over­all with a time of 20:05.

The rest of the se­nior boys in­clude Jared Brun­ner, Ethan Rohrer, Seth Pittman and new­comer Alex Bates. Bates, a first-year run­ner, has im­pressed Svo­boda with his abil­ity to keep up with the rest of the more ex­pe­ri­enced run­ners on the squad.

The coach will also be count­ing on key con­tri­bu­tions from the likes of ju­niors Jairo Gon­za­lez, Alex Gomez and Cooper Shull, along with sophomores Joseph San­ti­ago and Dy­lan Simp­son-Ris­ter, among oth­ers.

Svo­boda added the team’s goal is a faster show­ing at the re­gion meet in Oc­to­ber.

“I talked to our guys after our re­gion meet (last year),” he added. “If each of our guys had run about 20 sec­onds faster, we would have gone to state. Our goal this year is to at least

be faster at this year’s re­gion meet than we were last time. If we make it (to state), that’s great. If not, at least we set per­sonal-records.”

As far as the Lady Tigers go, even hav­ing the chance to go to the state meet will not be a pos­si­bil­ity un­less

Svo­boda and oth­ers on the team can re­cruit a few more run­ners. As it cur­rently stands, Ring­gold does not have the num­bers to field a com­plete girls’ ros­ter.

“We’re hav­ing a dif­fi­cult time get­ting girls to come out and run,” he ex­plained. “Most of them are in­volved in other things, like softball, recre­ation soc­cer, stuff like that. It’s tough be­cause

run­ning isn’t some­thing a lot of them want to do.”

Ring­gold will have two se­niors on the ros­ter in Lane Cates and Mi­randa Rich, a golf stand­out. Cates is the top re­turner from last year, hav­ing placed 36th at the re­gion meet with a time of 26:38.

An­other bright spot for this year and in the years to come, how­ever, could be fresh­man

Jersey McCann, one of the top ath­letes on the Ring­gold Mid­dle School track team last year.

“She’s nor­mally a sprinter, but she got talked into com­ing out for the team and she’s do­ing re­ally well,” Svo­boda said. “If she sticks with it, I think she’ll be re­ally good and I’m hop­ing she can help bring some younger kids out to the team.”

The Ring­gold High School cross coun­try se­niors in­clude (from left) Alex Bales, Jared Brun­ner and Ethan Rohrer. Not pic­tured are Lane Cates, Mi­randa Rich, Seth Pittman and Ja­cob An­der­son. (Photo by Scott Herpst)

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