Source: Sherman Publications

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X-country teams finish 2nd, 3rd at Rochester Adams Invite

by Lance Farrell

September 05, 2012

The Wildcats are off and running!

In their first outing of the season, the OHS boys and girls cross country teams finished second and third of the seven schools competing at the Rochester Adams invitation Aug. 30.

The average time to complete the 5k course for the OHS women's team was 20:58.1. OHS men ran the 5k in an average time of 18:09.3

Taking over for Ray Sutherland, first year coach Matt Johnson was pleased with the Wildcat's inaugural race. Due to the format of the competition. Johnson was able to get some much needed race experience for some of his less seasoned runners. To do this, he mixed some of his veterans with the younger squad. The results were pleasing to Johnson, who said that some of his freshman had their eyes opened to the length of high school races compared to what they had experienced at the middle school level.

The speed of the start was also a bit faster than the novices had anticipated, so the net result was to "train all of our kids to run their own races for the whole race and not sprint the first half and be too tired to run the second half," Johnson said. The strategy paid off, and the coach said his team ran very well.

As expected, senior Brooke Kovacic dominated the ladies field. At 18:12.8, Kovacic finished a full minute ahead of her nearest competitor--"a full 400-yard spread over the field" as Coach Johnson described it-- and seized a first place finish out of 50 girls who placed.

Johnson said Kovacic's competitors tried different tactics against her this time. Usually she has tight competition, but instead of sprinting ahead and then ultimately being picked off by Kovacic on her way to victory, competing squads are following the pace she sets.

As a returning all-stater, Kovacic's reputation precedes her. Now running with a target on her back, Kovacic said she has "to stay mentally strong to make sure I run my own race and not let anyone else get into my head or bother me at all. It takes a lot of discipline, but you have to just focus on yourself and shut everyone else out when you're running."

Kovacic bested her goal for the race by three seconds so she felt good about the time. She also praised her teammates for all running well, especially the freshman who Kovacic said "really stepped it up."

For the boys team, senior Wildcat Ryan Gillespie set a course personal best of 16:53.9, winning third out of 80 young men placing. Gillespie was in the "thick of the pack the whole race and as the race progressed, he and the front leader just ran away," the new coach summarized.

Johnson said he enjoys working with the cross country team. They are "a wonderful group of athletes and the parents and supporters are even better," he said.

Oxford heads next to West Bloomfield Sept. 8.