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Teamwork focus of Coventry boys cross country squad

10/4/2012 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

COVENTRY — Coventry High School boys cross country head coach Erin Malcolm said the strengths of this year’s squad are “working hard and pushing each other during practices.” Malcolm said that is a welcome change from the 2011 season.

“Last year, we really didn’t have a team leader, and the team just didn’t seem motivated. This year, I am seeing the total opposite of that,” she said. “We have a senior that has taken leadership, and the team, both as individuals and as a whole, has come together and is motivated. They want to put in the extra effort to get better and are excited about racing. They push each other in practice and are really working on tightening the team spread.”

Malcolm said her athletes are “setting goals and breaking them.”

“We have hit training the hills hard, and it is paying off,” she stated. “I think this really showed at the Malone Invitational [on Sept. 22-23]. Freshman Evan Davenport ran 18:37 and Austin Shields — a junior, but a first-time runner — ran 19:12. Senior Mason Belles ran 19:36, and then the rest of our top seven all ran under 20:45. The entire boys team, including our JV [junior varsity] athletes ran their personal-best times at Malone. As a team, we placed higher [sixth place] than we ever have at Malone.”

Overall, Malcolm said, this year’s team is on the younger side.

“We have one senior this year on the team, and the others have run cross country before or in middle school,” she said. “Andrew Bullock and Bailey Tenney are juniors, Dempsey Maag and Josh Goudy are sophomores and Evan Davenport, Caleb Burdett and Cody Rankin are freshmen. Then we have two athletes that are new to the sport this year in Austin Shields and Michael Simone, both juniors.”

As the team’s lone senior, Belles has taken over leadership of the squad, Malcolm said.

“He started running as a sophomore. He has really stepped up to be a team leader this year,” the coach said. “He is focused and pushes the other members to work hard at practice. He took it upon himself this year to organize team dinners each week. It just shows the team bonding that we have this year.”

Davenport and Shields have been two of the team’s standout performers this season, Malcolm noted.

“Evan Davenport has really been working hard and setting goals. He ran 18:37 last weekend. He’s determined and has a great work ethic,” the coach said. “Austin Shields came out for the first time this year, and he has really surprised me. He is running in the low 19:00s.”

This year marks Malcolm’s eighth season as the team’s head coach.

“I am extremely proud of how the team has been running this year. I am glad to see them setting goals and working as a team. I hope they keep improving and that it leads to better things for the future,” she said. “Each meet, the team has been improving as individuals and as a team by tightening the pack.”

Malcolm said the improvement from last season to this season has her team excited about getting even better for 2013.

“They are putting in the work and are already talking about the offseason and their plan to be even better next year,” she said. “A lot of them did not run over the summer, and they see now how important summer training is. They are running so well now, but they are recognizing their summer running mistakes and are planning on hitting it hard for next season.”

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