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Boys cross country is experienced

Seniors Nicholas Roukounakis, David Arenz and T.J. Carey run ahead of the pack. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
September 05, 2012 - The tail end of the 2012 track season saw Lake Orion return with a state championship.

Now, those same runners will have the opportunity to show what they can do in long distance runs, as the cross country season previewed on Aug. 31 with a tournament at Oakland University.

Leading the pack of runners from over a dozen schools was returning senior T.J. Carey, who placed first individually. Despite the first place time, Lake Orion took third behind Walled Lake Northern and classic rival Waterford Mott.

"We're very aware of (Waterford Mott) but we didn't run junior David Diaz today because he's been injured," said head coach Stan Ford. "That will effect our meet outcome and once we get Diaz back it will improve our performance."

Diaz and Carey both secured an all-state award last year and Ford mentioned some other up and coming runners. Senior David Arenz left soccer to join the cross country team due to a solid performance in the 2011 track team. Junior Kirk Hansen was similar in joining cross country over soccer and Ford believes he will help to bolster the team while Senior Niko Roukounakis has developed in the years he's been a runner. Roukounakis now stands to "hammer away" with top runners in the group.

As with many other sports this year, Olympics helped to generate a certain degree of passion and Ford hopes that will translate to a repeat of last year's league championship.

"We have 80 runners, which is about the same as last year, but the Olympics are often a topic of conversation and it seems to increase their enthusiasm," said Ford. "We've been a league champ now for the last two years in a row and we'd like to continue that."

Concerning the county and regional matches, Ford said improvements are something the team always looks for. Overall, he said the team has consistently looked better each year, with more and more runners keeping up with Carey. Ford said it comes down to working up through your underclassmen years to run your best just before graduation.

"I preach that we want you to run the best as a senior," he said. "Everything youdo up until then is getting better until you get to that senior year. These guys work for it so you have the kind of athlete out there that works for their position too."

Ford is on the look out for Clarkston and Adams too - two teams he said are question marks at this time. Last year Lake Orion were league champions, took seventh in the county, third at regional and eleventh at states by beating the two teams they lost to at the regional.

Their next competition is on Sept. 8 at the Bloomfield Brother Rice Invitational at Kensington Metro Park in Milford.

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