The 2015 St. Thomas Cross Country team included some of the best individual runners the school has seen throughout its long and decorated history.
The varsity team was led by Wyatt George ’16, James Hebert ’16, and Chris Kjellqvist ’16. The group easily pulled off a win in district, and even went on to finish fourth overall in the state championships. George went on to be instrumental in the Eagles’ track and field state title, and even broke the school record in the 1600m race.
Although George and several other top runners have graduated, the team strides on with new leaders to take on their roles and fill the gaps left by their absence. Among these are seniors Krzystof Kwiatkowski, Matthew Coughlin, and Lars Koehn. The rest of the varsity squad, however, consists mainly of younger runners, with underclassmen Juan Vasquez 19′, Ben Bludau 19′, and Blazek Skucius 20′ performing well in early meets.
The Eagles started the season out strong with both varsity and JV wins at the Incarnate Word Invitational meet on August 27, with Kwiatkowski finishing in second place overall. They then moved on to the John Cooper Invitational on September 3, placing third with over 40 teams competing.
The St. Thomas team has been in contention with some of the elite public schools in the state, even with injuries and illness inhibiting them from optimal performance. Multiple athletes have been recovering from recent injuries, and will likely benefit the team’s scores when they are able to compete again.
Last year’s leaders will definitely be hard to replace, but many new runners have created a considerable growth in the program. The young team, comprised of mostly underclassmen and juniors, promises a very successful future for upcoming seasons, and is expected to pull off another district win. They are beginning to race more strategically as well, staying in groups to push each runner to his limit.
Coach Labus believes that by late October, the time the state championship comes around, the top five athletes may be able to run times that place them right in contention for the state title. Competing at that level will require determination and focus, so it will be interesting to see how the season plays out. One point, however, can certainly be observed already: even with the loss of some of the best runners the school has seen, the cross country team will carry on without breaking stride.