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Four Warriors run into cross-country season as a team

Staff writer

Marion High School cross country may not have enough runners to earn team scores, but that doesn’t mean the season won’t be a team effort.

“It’s a team sport, even if you don’t have enough runners to create a full team,” coach Dmitry Bucklin said. “The act of running and the amount of stamina and energy it takes to run a race, and even practice, it takes every single person on the team — including the middle schoolers — to help each other out and encourage each other.”

The team will feature four runners: senior Colin Williams, sophomore Bethany Grimmett, and freshmen Colton Boudreaux and Nathan Shields. They can still compete for individual medals.

“In regards to individual, that’s what’s cool about cross country too, you can do just as much damage as far as getting hardware and medals,” Bucklin said.

At last year’s regionals, Williams placed 11th in the boys’ 5K with a time of 18 minutes, 19 seconds, one place shy of qualifying for state. Bucklin said Williams has taken on a leadership role.

“Even this first week of practice, I’ve seen him mentoring the younger kids, whether they be in high school or middle school, mentoring them on posture and technique,” Bucklin said. “Really, that’s what high school athletes, especially a senior athlete, should be doing.”

Bucklin said his training and coaching strategies won’t change because there are fewer runners. He sometimes runs or bikes alongside his athletes, which allows him to give them one-on-one attention.

“(I can) really work with them as they’re running, whether it be on form or breathing or all that kind of stuff,” he said.

Bucklin said the low number of runners could simply be the result of a “lean year.”

“There’s years when you have a solid amount of kids, and then there’s years where you just don’t have as many coming out,” he said.

“I think some people view cross country maybe as not a real sport, or they say, ‘Oh, all you’re going to do is go out and run and I hate running so I’m not going to do that.’ I think that discourages recruitment.”

He said changing the girls race in 2015 from 4 to 5 kilometers has contributed to lower turnout from girls.

Bucklin has a goal for a runner to qualify for the state race, but he won’t tell his runners his personal goals for them and the team.

“I want them to create a goal of something that they actually want to achieve and know that they can achieve,” he said.

He said he wants them to do their best.

“When I meet them at the end of the race, and they can look at me, and I ask them the question, ‘Did you do your best?’ and they say yes, that’s ultimately my goal for each kid at the end of each race at the end of each practice, to be able to tell me and know that they did their best,” Bucklin said.

Last modified Aug. 30, 2017

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