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Sophomore Ted Rydquist, junior T.J. Cary, seniors George Modrak, Aaron Kaufman and sophomore David Diaz finish their practice with a cool down iron-man. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
August 24, 2011 - It's late August and time for more than 50 Lake Orion male athletes to start running again.

Stan Ford, head coach of the boys cross country team, said while the team is smaller than usual, that is not necessarily bad from a coaching standpoint. Despite the numbers, the team excels in experience.

"I graduated three of my top-five runners, but I honestly think we're going to be stronger," said Ford. "We have around 40 kids coming back - a solid group - and we have some really talented younger guys who are in front of the seniors. Yet those same seniors give us depth and experience. The team's looking pretty good."

Ford was quick to mention a number of runners who have stood out, including junior all-state runner T.J. Kerry, and seniors Justin Prawdzik, George Modrak, Aaron Daufman and Ryan Singles.

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"These guys have worked extremely hard, particularly on these hotter days when they're just right out there," Ford said. "I look at these four seniors and the work they put in. They've gone to camp and they help to give us a really solid team."

Notable newcomers include junior Jacob Houlihan, who has "looked great" in practice, said Ford. Sophomore Ted Rydquist has been running with the top group and junior Tom Connolly has done "an awful lot of work to see the kind of improvement he's had," the coach added.

In addition, Ford is looking forward to watching David Diaz, a very talented Lake Orion track runner, run cross country.

Last year's boys cross country team captured the league championship, winning all three league jamborees. In addition, they took second place at regionals and earned 17th place in last year's state competition.

Ford said his team has exceeded his expectations to get ready for the season, and now he is simply waiting to see how they perform.

"When you have talented kids in a variety of grade levels, the team just kind of works," Ford said. "We have about two weeks to go but they're ready now. I hate to do it but I have to make them wait - these guys are ready to race."

Their first meet is the Oakland University Grizzly Invitational on Sept. 2.

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