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Cruise control: Mount Si cross country reloads with young but experienced trekkers
The name says "Cross Country," but these young athletes were doing more than just running on the fourth day of practice.
Dozens were bouncing, doing push-ups and high-stepping during the Mount Si team's drills at the home stadium. More were likely to join them in the days ahead, as the sport typically absorbs athletes cut from other programs but still needing to compete.
That's what makes high school cross-country "awesome," says head coach Christine Kjenner.
"We take kids of all abilities," said Kjenner. "They all compete. They can all be successful. Nobody sits on a bench."
While cross country is an individual sport, it's also got a real team aspect. Team members cheer each other on, help each other improve, and their camaraderie often propels them through the postseason.
While every runner takes part, the top seven competitors are considered varsity, and the top five score.
Mount Si hosts a jamboree this month, and the results will give a good idea of the team's top placers and chances.
Mount Si's chances this year depend on a new crop of leaders heading up a fairly young team.
On the boys side, look for Richard Carmichael, Dom Canady, Tim Corrie and Ryan Olson to lead a young but experienced contingent. Many have trained or competed this summer, and bring a lot of energy.
Carmichael, a senior, made it to districts and got to 17:30 on the course last season. He wants to go to state, "and break 17 minutes for sure."
The girls team made it to districts as well last fall. Sophomore Bailey Scott, whose busted toe precluded a state appearance, is among veterans Christina Volken, Ashley Jackson, Sarah Miller, Madeleine Bezanson, and fellow sophomores Abby Bottemiller and Erin Rylands, who brings a core of experience.
Bottemiller said the leaders need "to push it, be be encouraging."
"We have to step it up," Scott added.
They have high expectations for a bigger, younger team, compared with 2010. So does Kjenner.
"They're very excited. They're coming in, in shape," she said. "It's going to be a good year."