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