Marion High School runners Emily Hague and Colin Williams will lead this year’s cross-country team as they stride into the season.
Last year, Hague placed 15th as a junior in the girls’ 3A state race, and Williams placed 57th as sophomore in the boys’ race.
Coach Dmitry Bucklin replaces former coach Rebecca Hofer this year. He ran cross-country for six years at Mountain Lake, Minnesota, while he was in middle and high school, but this will be his first time to coach the sport.
He likes the sport’s family atmosphere.
“It’s unlike any other sport,” Bucklin said. “The parents can literally run the entire course if they want when they’re watching their kids.”
He also is excited to have a state medalist and a state qualifier to help lead the team this year.
“As runners we all have good days and bad days,” Bucklin said. “Emily is a determined runner. She keeps running even when she is in pain. Colin just has a lot of energy. There is a sense of urgency to his running. He always gives 100 percent.”
With five girls and four boys on the roster, the girls will have enough to compete as a team at meets, but the boys fall one runner shy, and will have to compete as individuals.
“There is a lot of potential on our team,” Bucklin said.
He noted that sophomore Ethan Darnall might be able to make a run at state, if not this year, at least by his senior year.
Bucklin said junior Tyler Arocha and senior Devin Regnier, who is running for the team for the first time this year, as well as girls runners Meggan Frese, A.J. Arterburn, Luisa Junqueira, and Bethany Grimmett have potential, too.
“I’m extremely pleased with how they’re doing,” he said.
Aside from just doing straight distance workouts in practice, Bucklin has incorporated sprints, a tag game called ‘sharks and minnows’, and swimming to change things up.
“The kids were excited about swimming at first, then afterward there basically said ‘Yeah we don’t want to do that anymore,’” Bucklin said. “Swimming is a fantastic way to have an intense workout and it gives us a break from all the high impact of running.”
Bucklin also believes that his runners should be able to run nine miles, or three times the distance of a regular race.
“Ultimately, by the end of the season, I want everyone to be in better shape than they were when they started,” he said. “I’d like all our runners to improve their times at every meet, and I want them to be able to look back on the season and say they had fun even though it was difficult.”
Runners David Sawyer, Sydney Williams, Cross Brown, Heidi Grimmett, and Colton Boudreaux will run for the middle school cross-country team.