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Youth, talent both promising for Tigers

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Chase International

by Joey Crandall,
August 19, 2005

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Returning a solid core of experienced runners that propelled a strong finish to the 2004 season, the Douglas High School cross country program is enjoying the anticipation of a promising 2005.

It's going to be interesting to see how everything plays out as the season goes along, Douglas coach Keith Cole said. We have a good core of kids back with us, especially on the girls' side, and we are very excited about the number of new faces we have out here with us.

It'll be a very young team, and that bodes well for our future.

Add to it a meet on the Carson Valley floor and the recent announcement that work on the school's all-weather track will commence in early 2006, and Cole has plenty of buzz to go with the Tiger running program heading into the year.

We're heading into the season looking to define our success on an individual basis, Cole said. We'll focus on running with the group and how to work together as a team to make each other better, but our success is most defined by each individual going out there and running a better time each week than they did the week before.

That's the beauty of this sport. How we determine our success is completely up to the runners.

The girls' team, coached by Christine Ensign, has the potential for a wildly successful run, returning three of its top five runners from last year's regional championships.

Sarah Rowe, the girls' squad's lone senior, will lead the pack after posting the top Douglas time (23:30 on the 3.1-mile Rancho San Rafael course in Reno) at regionals last year.

A trio of sophomores, Sara Allen, Anna Chiapella and Whitney Lindsey, are expected to make significant strides this year as well.

Lindsey, who won several distance events in the 2005 track and field season as a freshman, is in her first year with the cross country team, while Allen and Chiapella each raced at the cross country regionals as freshmen.

It's been real fun to watch their progress so far this season, Cole said. From where we are right now, compared to where we were at this point last season, this team is far, far ahead of schedule.

These girls are confident running together, they're starting to push each other and it should be very exciting to watch them progress as the season goes on.

It's a rare combination of youth and experience that they get to enjoy this season.

The boys' squad loses five of its top seven runners from 2004, but Cole said the team has plenty of young, raw talent that could turn some heads late in the season.

Sophomore David Williams and senior Duke Sanders are the only returning varsity runners from last year's regional meet, but the two will combine with junior Charlie Cross to make a formidable top three heading into the year.

&qut;David just has a great attitude, he's a really hard worker and he loves to run, Cole said. You can't go wrong with that. Charlie has been with us for two years now and is really beginning to show a lot of improvement. He enjoys competing, he doesn't give up easily and he will be in the mix to lead this team.

Duke has a ton of talent and is just another one of those guys that you love to have around.

Spencer Lewis and Derek Jenkins, who both ran the 800 during track season, will make their first appearances with the cross country team this year.

I am really excited about those two guys, Cole said.

Freshman Eddie Koller, a standout runner in middle school, and senior Sean Chrest, are two runners Cole thinks could come up with some surprises along the way.

We've been watching Eddie out on some of the distance courses, Cole said. He's a tough little kid, he just doesn't give up. He's working really hard out there and he hasn't slowed down. To have his ability at such a young age, it just shows a lot of promise.

Sean ran track last year and asked if he could come out for cross country. We timed him three days ago and he turned in the No. 5 time on the team having never run cross country before in his life. There is a lot of raw talent there and he could be very good later on in the season.

Through several weeks of preseason workouts, the team has been primarily just putting in the miles, trying to build a base for later in the year.

We're out there pounding the pavement, just trying to get the kids comfortable with the distances, Cole said. By the time we hit the first quarter of the season or so, we want them to be running about 25 to 30 miles a week without breaking so much of a sweat or without their pulse rising as much.

Cole said the team will be working out every weekday at 6 p.m. until Aug. 24, when it will switch to 2:45. He said anyone cut from soccer, tennis or volleyball tryouts would be more than welcome to join up with the team.

Douglas opens up its season with a meet at Lampe Park on Sept. 2. All of the Northern 4A teams are expected, as is Lowry and Rite of Passage.

That'll be a good meet for us in the sense that it will let us know where we stand, and where we'd like to be, Cole said. It's a good way to start off the year.

The meet will be run in class format, meaning that each runner will go up against other runners of the same grade in school.

Douglas will also compete in the Stanford Invitational, one of the 10 biggest meets in the entire country.

We'll take our top seven boys and top seven girls down for the meet and it's just a fun time every year, Cole said. What we are trying to do is build good runners and life-long runners.

-- Joey Crandall can be reached at or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.


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