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Coventry boys cross country team ready for championship

10/10/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

COVENTRY — According to Coventry High School boys cross country head coach Erin Malcolm, this year’s team is filled with guys who “work hard together and really push each other every day.”

“The team as a whole has a lot of heart and determination this year. They want to run a personal best every race,” she said. “We have a team of young runners who are improving each race. I only wish the weather would cooperate. We had to run in the extreme heat and the opposite at Malone with the mud. So without that factor, the team would be running exceptionally well pretty early on.”

Malcolm said she has been pleased with the team’s overall results thus far.

“We’ve beat a couple teams that we haven’t in the past, and we lost to Norton only by a few points in a dual, which we’ve never came close to before,” she stated. “I feel like this year we’ve actually been able to compete and hold our own. Tucker Pearce won the Hoban Dick Malloy invite and placed third in the Metro Division at our PTC [Portage Trail Conference] Super Dual. That’s our highest place finish ever on the boys’ side.”

With no seniors, Malcolm said this year’s team is pretty young.

“The most experience we have are the two juniors that ran all three years. After that, it’s sophomores and freshman,” she said. “We have a young team to build on. With everyone returning next year, and we are moving up three of our middle school guys, we should be pretty decent.”

Three juniors have been key performers for Coventry this season.

“Sam Neugebauer is [in his] first year running cross country. He’s been consistent in the mid 19:00s. His personal best right now is 19:05. He’s a hard worker and doing very well for his first competitive season,” the coach said. “Dempsey Maag has improved by a few minutes since the start of the season. He got off to a slow start with not much summer conditioning, but has picked it up and put it in high gear. He’s been working double time to catch up and is running well now. He ran a personal best this year of 20:25. Josh Goudy has worked hard all summer and is looking to run a personal best next weekend at our PTC League meet.”

The team’s top runner this season, Malcolm said, has been Pearce, a sophomore in his first year running cross country.

“I didn’t really know what to expect, but he’s doing a great job and can hold his own in the big races,” she said. “Tucker goes out hard, he tries to stay up with the lead and hangs on. Tucker gives 110 percent each day and sometimes I have to tell him to hold back some — especially on a recovery day. He has his eye on the school record, which is 16:59. Tucker has run 17:25 this year, so it’s not out of the question. Tucker also holds a 4.0 GPA and is in the top four in his class.”

Malcolm said the team’s sophomores are “running really well.”

“Evan Davenport ran an 18:19 personal record this year and is also eyeing that school record,” she stated. “Caleb Burdett is my fifth runner, and he has run a personal best of 23:10 this year. He’s looking to break 22 at league.”

In addition, the coach said, freshmen Nick Stone and Zach Hookway are working hard to decrease their times.

“We’re hoping they can get in the 25:00s by the end of the season,” she said.

Next up for Coventry is the PTC League championship, which will take place tomorrow, Oct. 12, at the Portage County Fairgrounds in Randolph.

“Looking toward this weekend, the team should run well,” Malcolm said. “The boys are ready and have been working hard. We’re looking for a payoff this weekend, and hopefully we can continue that to the district meet at Goodyear. If you look at where the boys started at our first dual meet to our last dual meet, we had a huge drop in times — some as much as three to five minutes. So we’ve come a long way and times are going to keep dropping.”

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