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Highland team paced by strength of top three runners

11/8/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

GRANGER — The Highland High School boys cross country team finished the season in fifth place in the Suburban League.

“We did OK. You need five guys to score, and we had a really strong first three. With our four/five position, we just needed to try to bring them down a bit time-wise,” said head coach Josh Victor. “I guess we finished where I figured we would overall. I wish we could have gotten those four/five scores down a little bit, but it just didn’t happen. The first three did really well, though.”

According to Victor, Highland’s No. 1 runner was senior Cole Vandenberg.

“Cole did really well this year. He worked really hard over the summertime,” the coach said. “He made it to the regional meet at Tiffin, where he placed 30th. And he was second in the Suburban League. He ran a 16:35 at [the] Goodyear [meet], which was a real good time. He was always in the top 10 pretty much anywhere we went all season. He had an outstanding season.”

Running at No. 2 for the team this year, Victor said, was senior Stuart Arbuckle.

“Stuart has been a very good runner for me since he came in as a freshman,” the coach said. “He has been first-team all-Suburban League the last two years. He was sixth this year in the Suburban League. He was right behind Cole all season. He ran really strong for me this year.”

Rounding out the team’s top three for 2012 was junior Jason Hadchiti.

“He started running really well last year, but this year he’s just been real strong,” Victor said. “He basically was running 18:00 flats all year long, and he did end up with a 17:57. He has that kind of a body type to be a real good runner, and if he wants to put a little more into it in the summer, like Cole did, Jason could be very, very good. He’s a real nice kid — a real consistent kid.”

Another runner who made a major contribution to the team this season, the coach said, was senior Ryan Wilber.

“Ryan is getting his third-year award letter. He has been with the team for four years, and he has been my four/five guy for the past two years,” Victor said. “He’s a steady guy. He usually runs about a 19:00 flat to a 19:30. He always puts in a good effort.”

With the loss of three key seniors to graduation, Victor said he will be looking for some younger runners to step up next year.

“I’ve been thinking about that,” he said. “I do have some good young ones coming up. One example is Ian Alred, who is a sophomore this year. He ran well and got into my top five this year. Freshman Maison Dewalt got his first-year letter. He was typically my fifth or sixth guy on varsity. He just needs to develop more. And Christian Gerding, another freshman, also needs to develop. The freshmen just need to get a little stronger and they could really be good.”

Victor said he has been the head coach of Highland’s boys cross country team since 1996.

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