'This is where I truly believe we belong'
September 01, 2010 - Varsity Boys and Girls Cross Country Coach Ray Sutherland called this summer's practices the best he has ever seen.
|Introducing the 2010 Girls Cross Country Team. Names were not provided by press time. (click for larger version)|
"We are working extremely hard. The girls are stepping it up a notch and we probably had the best practice for the girl's team that I've ever had in the history of the school," Sutherland said.
"The times that we ran and the attitude that we had, it was just an incredible day," he added.
If both teams can preform like they have in practice, it should be a successful season as the Wildcats make the transition from the Flint Metro League into the Oakland Activities Association.
"It's a brand new league and I am extremely excited about being in the OAA league...we are an Oakland County school and we should be competing against Oakland County Schools" Sutherland said.
"This is where I truly believe we belong and I am expecting to do very well in the league and be very competitive," he added.
For Coach Sutherland, the biggest difference he saw between the two leagues was not the competition, but the schedule of the league.
|Presenting the 2010 Boys Cross Country Team. Names were not provided by press time. (click for larger version)|
Gone are the traditional dual meets that were common in the FML. This year the teams will compete in three jamborees.
"It is basically three tournaments and all the schools line up together. We have the finals and that is really exciting that we were able to get the league championships in late October at our home site at Oxford Hills," he said.
Only the top ten on the Varsity squad can attend the jamborees, so the friendly competition among the members of the varsity team is on.
Leading the way for the girls will be Captains Brooke Kovacic and Megan Seeley.
"Brooke is very talented and she leads at such a high level and the team sees her doing it and they figure they can do it too," Sutherland said.
He added that the team is stepping it up and running faster because of Brooke's example. "I think the top ten are already faster than our top five from last year already this year," he said.
He praised Seeley's leadership ability. "She had a real good summer until she got mono, but that hasn't stopped her from being a good leader and one of the better captains that we had."
Helping out Kovacic and Seeley will be juniors Brittany and Chelsea Johnson, who are new to the program this year.
"They have exceptional ability and exceptional attitude," he said. "They are always happy and have great practices, so we are looking for big things out of them."
He is also expecting contributions from freshman Alora McCoy. "She has an excellent shot at making our top five and has looked really good."
Sophomore Abby Wrobel caught the attention of Sutherland at the end of last season and has continued to improve throughout the off-season. "She has really stepped it up and is running with our top group of five real well," Sutherland added.
For the boys, Sutherland will count on second year Captain Dylan Smith and Curtis Kocher to lead the way for the Wildcats.
"Smith is leading the way and is a very good captain both physically and mentally, while Kocher is doing a good job as well," Sutherland said.
Just like the girls squad, the rest of the team is stepping up and preforming well.
"Our seniors are really stepping it up and even our sophomores, James Pollard and Ross Chapman are really running well and doing a great job and have a great attitude," he said.
He noted that freshman Noah Jenkins and Ricky Dvorak have come on strong in their first season and have a shot to make the top seven.
Their first test of the season comes on Thursday, Sept. 2 at the Adams Invitational at Bloomer Park in Rochester.
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.