Strong girls team returns for Arlington cross country

Sophomore Bryna Prause, left, is poised to become the number one runner for an experienced Arlington girls cross country team. Prause works out with teammate Seth Henderson. - DANIELLE SZULCZEWSKI Sports Reporter
Sophomore Bryna Prause, left, is poised to become the number one runner for an experienced Arlington girls cross country team. Prause works out with teammate Seth Henderson.
— image credit: DANIELLE SZULCZEWSKI Sports Reporter

Arlington cross country returns all but one of its runners from last year’s state-qualifying girls team.

While any other year coach Mike Shierk’s hopes that they can qualify for state again seem highly probable, there’s one big difference this year — Arlington moves up a division to compete at 4A.

But both the girls and the boys — who suffered the loss of three top runners to graduation — have taken that change as a reason to work harder than ever this summer in the off-season.

Several members of the 60-plus teammates ran in the neighborhood of 300 to 400 miles this summer, or roughly two round trips from Arlington to Vancouver, B.C.

Shierk said he was trying a number of different steps with the runners to get them psyched through the summer and competing hard. Another included a competitive running log where athletes could compare their workouts with teammates and strive to do better.

The runners stepped up to the challenge and Shierk sounds thrilled with their effort.

“It’s amazing in this sport, hard work over a long period of time equals success. It’s one of the few sports where you can do that,” he said. “That’s pretty much where your team success is built, during summer training.”

The boys will be led by senior Sean Gregory, a state-qualifier last spring and district champion in the boys 1,600 during the track season.

“There’s something intoxicating about being district champ because then you will settle for nothing less than the best in whatever else you do. That’s his goal, he wants to be district champ,” Shierk said.

The girls will be led by sophomore Bryna Prause, who has apparently made big strides over the summer. After running about a solid fourth for the girls last fall, she’s moved up this summer and should provide a counterpart to junior Safa Pinkens, who is one of the top returning girls. Although Arlington lost Sarah Rayner to graduation, they got an addition in the off-season, recruiting one-time soccer player Kristin Wregglesworth to their side.

“Wregglesworth ran really really well in the track season, we recruited her from soccer,” Shierk said.

The picture is fuzzier on the boys side, but the Arlington coach expressed his happiness with his runners’ work ethic this summer. Lukas Chase and Aaron Newsom were near the back of the varsity pack last season, but after their 400-mile summers and the departure of Paul Simbeck, Luke Passalacqua and Charlie Ewell, they’re candidates to step up and fill those shoes.

“We’ve set the bar reasonably high and the kids are trying to run at that level,” Shierk said.

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