2009-10-01 / News

Boy harriers off to undefeated start

By Adrienne Downing

James Stewart James Stewart Although the North Kingstown High School boys’ cross country team is off to a 4-0 start in the southern division, Head Coach Paul Tetreault is not taking anything for granted.

“I think we should respect every opponent no matter what,” he said. “We should never expect that we can just show up and win.”

Opponents would not blame the coach for thinking he has the edge going into a meet, given his exceptional cast of runners this year. The talent pool runs deep on the team, including a group of sophomores who were last year’s freshman state champions.

“We seem to have quite a bit of quality depth-wise. I believe we are the team to beat in the southern division,” Tetreault said.

He also said that some of the natural talent on the team is complimented by a good work ethic.

“I am very optimistic about the girls and boys teams. We have great kids who have worked very hard during the summer and the early season. Included in this group are talented Jamestowners James Stewart, Luke Lis, Connor Downing, Mike Spahr, Jacob Wigton and Dan Gorelick,” he said.

Stewart, a senior, has emerged as one of the team’s leaders this year, running consistently in one of the top two spots, along with junior Zach Seites- Rundlett. “James is very talented and when he is healthy, he makes us a very good team,” he said.

One of the team’s strengths is their ability to work together.

“The kids truly seem to like each other and have bought into the team concept. I have always believed that all teams work hard during the season, so the real good teams get their edge through team chemistry,” Tetreault said.

Along with Stewart, two other Jamestown seniors are bringing their running experience to the team. Four-year cross country runner Jacob Wigton is the team’s thinker, Tetreault said.

“Jacob is very analytical about his races and always goes into a race with a plan. He makes good decisions,” he said.

Islander Mike Spahr has four solid years running for the NKHS track team, but came out for the cross country team for the first time this season.

“Mike’s niche is as a hurdler in track, but he decided to run cross country to increase his aerobic capacity to do more quality work on the track,” Tetreault said.

The island is well represented by the underclassmen on the team as well.

Gorelick, a sophomore, has battled knee injuries the last two years, but Tetreault said he is an example of the spirit the team embodies.

“He really enjoys being a member of the team. He has battled injuries, but he encourages all who he comes into contact with,” he said.

Freshmen Lis and Downing bring their own strengths, both on and off the course. “Luke is a great addition to our program. He is a very hard worker and has a very positive outlook on all aspects of training and life,” Tetreault said. “Connor is following in his sister’s footsteps by running cross country. He is a physically strong kid who is just starting to learn what cross country is all about. A great upside to Connor is that he is just going to get better and better.”

The coach said that even with all the team talent, chemistry and leadership, there is always room for improvement.

“We need to become a tighter pack team. The gap between our number one and number five runners needs to be as close together as possible,” he said.

Tetreault said one way the team is working on closing that gap is by pairing runners up and having them push each other.

“The more they stay up with the one and two runners, the more confident they will be,” he said.

Some of the toughest work for NK will come at the end of the year in the state finals, as two of the toughest teams in the state, LaSalle and Bishop Hendricken, are not in the Skippers’ division.

“Our goal is always to win the state meet and qualify for New Englands. The two parochial schools are the favorites. They are well coached and any team who hopes to win states must go through them,” Tetreault said.

For now, the Skippers are looking ahead to their final dual meet of the season on Monday in South Kingstown and are working on improving every day to reach their goal of a second state championship in four years.

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