Hoban cross country teams working toward ‘steady improvement’
AKRON — According to head coach Joe Zampino, both the Archbishop Hoban High School boys and girls cross country teams are filled with runners who work hard every day.
“I haven’t had an unexcused absence since they started,” he said. “They’re there every day, and they’re just basically working hard. They have shown a good work ethic.”
The coach said the Hoban cross country teams had some success last season, but the program lost a dozen quality athletes to graduation.
“Last year, [the] Archbishop Hoban cross country team ran all invitationals, winning two and ending up in the top five the other six,” he said. “We graduated 12 seniors last year but [have] some good, solid underclassman returning this year.”
This year, Zampino said, the teams feature a nice blend of youth and experience.
“We are looking to improve this year, because the team has some good veteran runners and a few good first-year runners,” he stated.
Zampino said his goal for the teams is “steady improvement.”
“I want to see improvement in all facets of running and improvements in their times,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to finish in the top group of the North Coast League and also to advance in postseason play.”
The boys team
Through Aug. 30, Zampino said, the boys team had been in two invitationals and finished first in both.
“The boys team has showed a big improvement over last year,” he said. “They learned how to run, basically, and have improved on their times. They all improved on their times in the second meet over the first one.”
Zampino said he has seen some “pretty good senior leadership” from the team’s leaders.
“The boys team is led by senior James Axson, who has won both invitational meets this year,” he said. “James placed first in the Dick Malloy Invitational and in first place at the Panther Run on Aug. 27 in Sandusky. He’s really a hard worker on the course and in the weight room. He’s also a good leader and he’s very active in extracurricular activities.”
The boys team’s other seniors — David McHenry and Russell Bolender — have improved their times, the coach said.
“Both are steadily improving all the time,” he stated. “They show good leadership and they work hard.”
Zampino said the team also is receiving valuable contributions from a number of nonseniors.
“The younger kids are coming along,” he said. “They’re even pushing last year’s runners a bit.”
Two returning runners who have made improvements this season, Zampino said, are junior Tom Bulgrin and sophomore Evan Nichols.
“Tom Bulgrin continues to improve his times and is adding depth to the boys team. He is really coming along. He’s running fairly well right now, but he has room for improvement, which they all do,” the coach stated. “Evan Nichols is the most improved male runner I have. He’s dropped his times significantly.”
According to Zampino, three first-year runners have made names for themselves already this season.
“Joe Brennan has a bright future. He’s actually a freshman and he’s our No. 2 runner behind James Axson in both invitationals,” he said. “Sam Ruscak is a freshman who made the varsity and I think he’s working hard to try to keep that because we go from meet to meet on varsity based strictly on times. And Sam Smith is an up-and-coming freshman. He works hard and he’s pressing the top group of runners for a varsity spot. He has a great work ethic.”
The girls team
The girls team finished in second-place at the Dick Malloy Invitational and fifth at the Panther Run, Zampino said.
“The strength on the girls team is junior Katie Frego. She won the Dick Malloy Invitational and was fourth in the Panther Run in Sandusky,” the coach said. “Katie is a first-class runner. She is also the hardest worker on the team. She has a fantastic work ethic, and what makes her great is that she has perfect running form.”
The seniors on the girls team, Zampino said, are Eileen Cummins and Megan Kudlac.
“They’re seniors who aren’t quite running to their potential, but I think they will be in a couple of weeks,” he said. “They’re improving their times. I’m just looking for a little more leadership out of them.”
The No. 2 runner on the girls team is sophomore Kyonne Smith, who is in her first year on the cross country team.
“She came over from track as a middle-distance runner and wanted to try cross country,” the coach stated. “She’s a very quiet, laid-back girl who works hard and does exactly what you want her to do. There’s nothing but better times ahead for her.”
In addition, Zampino noted, a number of other runners have played key roles for the girls team.
“Sarah Davies is rounding into shape, and she’s running better than she did before,” he said. “And Nicole Miller and Casey Surblis have also contributed as scorers on the girls side. Casey is injured, but she’s doing as well as she can. She doesn’t quit.”
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