The cross country team has had to deal with some pretty big changes this season but still were able to compete well individually.
The team’s coach for many years, Mr. Dusch, retired last year and Mr. Eskra took his place for this season.
“It is an adjustment for the older kids on the team. Even though I was an Assistant with Mr. Dusch for a number of years, training styles and coaching philosophies are slightly different with the two of us,” Eskra said about Dusch’s retirement.
“As a new head coach my focus is trying to get kids to participate in the sport and increase the number of athletes on the team from 10 on each team to 20,” Eskra said.
Overall, the team has seen great success, time-wise, especially for the boys.
“The boys team has seen a huge improvement since last year. Many of them started running with us since school let out for summer back in June. All of the boys have seen their times drop from 40 seconds to 2 minutes off their personal best marks last year,” Eskra said.
The team is young, with no seniors running, and just coming out of losing both Bri Dobson and Josiah Johnson, two high quality runners.
“Both Bri and Josiah were huge losses due to graduation. You can’t ask anyone to replace a national All-American. However the leadership they provided to the younger athletes has carried on with the current team. Cassidy Gray and Julia Rogers have helped bring along the newer and younger runner. Mike Phillips and Josh Ashmore have both been a great 1-2 combo for the boys team as well,” Eskra said.
The last team race is WPIAL championships at Cooper’s Lake on October 29th and Eskra is optimistic of the outcome.
“I think our teams will turn some heads and surprise some people with very fast times. We do have 1 or 2 kids who could be a dark horse and qualify for states as well,” he said.