Arlington cross country aims high

ARLINGTON — Talking to Arlington cross country coach Mike Shierk, it isn’t hard to hear his excitement about this fall’s team.

“Coming into the season, we didn’t lose a single runner on the girls’ side,” he said.

Plus, after sophomore Teresa Wadey set a school record in the mile during last spring’s track season, Shierk persuaded the soccer player to come out for cross country this fall.

So even though the Arlington girls placed seventh at districts — fourth place or better qualifies an entire team for the state cross country meet — the coach believes his team has the talent and work ethic to compete for one of those slots.

“They’ve really bought into the team side of this. They make shirts together,” Shierk said, adding that he considers this fall’s girls squad to be the strongest he has coached. “We want to qualify for state, we want to qualify individuals for state. There’s no doubt in my mind they can do it.”

He added that the boys team is poised to pick up where last year’s squad left off. Although the team graduated senior Sean Gregory, a state miler in his junior year of track, junior James Clark appears positioned to step into Gregory’s shoes as the team’s No. 1 runner, one of several boys to put in a 500-mile summer. Shierk’s goals for the boys are equally ambitious. He’s hoping to see the boys team cut a minute off of their district times the year before and even have five guys running a 5k time under 17 minutes.

In addition to Clark, junior Jacob Fure and sophomore Andrew Bosket are in that 500-mile club, doing the hard work necessary to have a successful fall season.

“The season is won or lost on summer training,” Shierk said. “Those that don’t will have to do so on athletic ability.”

The runners’ summer work ethic played a key role in determining captains, which sheds light on several more runners who could show big improvements on the trail this fall. The girls are led by seniors Safa Pinkens and Amye Ellsworth and junior Bryna Prause. The boys’ captains are Clark and varsity seniors Aaron Newson and Lukas Chase.

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