Cross country copes with disappointing finish

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By Peter Scamardo
Eagle Staff

Injuries and unforeseen incidents severely hindered the St. Thomas cross-country teams finish at this

year’s TAPPS 5A State Meet. With two of the team’s top three runners unable to compete, the Eagles

managed a fourth place finish. A step backwards after finishing 2nd and 3rd at state in consecutive

years.

“It is frustrating as a coach when things do not come together as planned,” coach Nathan Labus said.

“The State meet is how I grade myself for the season and the fourth place is a direct reflection of

coaching. So now I have to reflect back and fix the mistakes I made so we may to continue to improve.

With that said, everyone that competed at the state meet did great, many running PR’s for the season.

I am very proud of all of them.”

Junior James Hebert was the fastest runner for the team, finishing sixth overall with a time of 16:46

and receiving an All-State recognition. Following the near record breaking pace of the overall winner

Harrison Grant ’14 from the previous season, the team knew it was unlikely someone would match

that speed again. Overall the Eagles are satisfied with their success this season, a season that took

them from a summer training trip in Colorado to another district title and ultimately the fourth place

finish at state.

The Eagles ultimately made it to state on the backs of Hebert and senior Jonathan Rzasnicki, the

team’s two most consistent runners.

“I don’t think Jonathon missed one practice all season,” Labus said. “He is not our most talented

runner, but what he lacks in talent, he makes up for in his dedication. In a team meeting before the

race, coach Reyes said give it your all…Leave it all on the course.

Jonathan collapsed at the finish line and had to be helped by junior Wyatt George. I wish everyone

was able to dig down deep and run as hard as he did that day. James has a great attitude and

confidence in himself to be successful. You have to believe before you can achieve. I believe his

confidence is what allowed him to be so successful this year.”

Unfortunately though the runners will look back at the season thinking about the what might have

happened if certain players had been able to run.

The losses of senior Jason Nania and sophomore Baxter Jones, in addition to an injury suffered by

Wyatt George, clearly hurt their chances.

“Injuries really affected the team this season in particular,” George said. “I myself was injured early in

the season, and only came back a couple weeks before state, and that affected my performance a lot.

Our team at state was not the best it could have been, but we tried to make it work, and we did pretty

well for what we had.”

In light of all this, the valuable experience the Eagle runners have gained will be crucial to their

success in the following years. With juniors Hebert, George and Chris Kjellqvist, and sophomore

Krzystof Kwiatkowski among the returning runners, the cross country team will surely look to

continue their recent string of success.

 

 

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