Warriors have high hopes for cross-country
Cle Elum-Roslyn harriers aim to be top contenders
By PAL BALCERAK
CLE ELUM - If predictions by new head coach Thad O'Dell are any indication, 2006 could be a big year for the boys' side of Cle Elum-Roslyn High School's cross country squad.
"I think we have a chance - especially on the guys' side where we have 4-to-5 of our top guys back - to finish in the top of our division," O'Dell said. "Definitely the guys have a chance to compete for the district title."
Though '06 will be O'Dell's first year at Cle Elum, he has eight years combined coaching experience at W.F. West High School in Chehalis and Taipei American School in Taiwan to back up his outlook for the season.
O'Dell's boys' squad will be centered around a trio of sophomores - Walter Beohme, Micheal Greene and Brenden Loyer - while the top seven will be rounded out within the next week, leading up to the opening meet of the season this Saturday at Ellensburg.
The Warrior girls squad may be hampered by a lack of turnout this season, though senior Sierra Young was confident that enough runners would be on hand to qualify a team by Saturday. Last year's girls' squad took sixth in state, but only three members of that team are back in 2006.
"I think (2005) was a good season to go out with our four seniors, but we're definitely feeling their loss," Young said.
O'Dell is counting on what he called a "strong senior base," consisting of Young, Kasey Craft and Taryne Talerico, to lead an otherwise inexperienced girls squad that currently only has two other runners. Young is optimistic about the upcoming season, though she said Cle Elum's competitors aren't likely to make things easy.
"I think we can at least get some P.R.'s (personal records) and stuff," Young said. "We have some really tough schools to run against."
O'Dell is aware of the challenges that await both his squads in '06, but is content to focus on the betterment of his runners for the time being and worry about the competition later. His coaching strategy thus far has stressed what he calls "intrinsic motivation" and he said he's not one to get too upset or excited during meets or practices.
"I think I'd describe [myself] as a thinking man's coach," O'Dell said.
He's confident in his squad's ability to be conditioned come opening day and thinks the landscape of Cle Elum may provide the Warriors with an advantage over most teams in the Yakima Valley. While teams in the lower county are restricted to mostly flat stretches of land, Cle Elum and Roslyn are comparatively abundant with hills. Whether or not those hills will prove an advantage for the Warriors remains to be seen, but O'Dell said his squad's ability to condition in the area may prove to be the deciding factor in many of this year's races.