Expectations out of New Richmond are sky-high for the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams as the boys look to capture their third straight Southern Buckeye title and the girls live up to the preseason hype that placed them atop the standings.
“Our expectations for both teams are to win the league,” third-year head coach Rylan Shebesta said. “The girls have a really good shot because we didn’t lose too many runners (to graduation) and we gained a few good ones. We have a good team.
“On the guys’ side, Bethel’s probably the front runner (to win the SBC), but hopefully we will be able to catch up with them by the end of the year.”
For the boys’ team, Shebesta is hoping to build off some success early in the year and continue to improve going forward.
The Lions are led by Luke Gilday who finished third in the 2011 league championship. Unfortunately for New Richmond, the two runners who finished ahead of Gilday, Alex Ariapad and Grant Gillman, were lost to graduation.
It’s not all bad news, however, as Ben Green and Bobby Bingham are returning and coming off solid finishes at last year’s league championship, fourth and sixth, respectively. Gilday and Green are seniors, while Bingham is just a sophomore.
Aside from the returners, Shebesta was encouraged by a couple of newcomers.
“Two new additions that will really help are Brian Lewis and Stone Oliver who are both juniors,” the coach said.
The boys’ team has had some solid showings at early races including a second place at the Felicity Invitational and a sixth place at Western Brown. The team also finished middle of the pack at Wilmington, coming in 19 out of 30 teams.
As for the girls, Shebesta believes that his is the team to beat. Coming off wins at the Felicity Invitational and at Western Brown, the Lady Tigers have set the bar high.
“The girls want to qualify as a team for regionals,” Shebesta said. “Unlike in year’s past, we might be able to win our district. We’ve had good teams and have been in the mix for the regionals, but we had to run really well and set (personal records) to get to regionals. This year I think we’re strong enough to win it.”
The girls team is led by a solid core of upperclassmen that includes Kara Burns, Olivia Behymer, Paige Anderson and Emily Erdman.
Shebesta, as he said earlier, is also impressed by some newcomers that he hopes can improve the team.
“We got two new freshman that also play soccer and are really good runners: Claire Burns and Emily Bellmont,” the coach said. “They have been big additions for us.”
Shebesta said that with so much talent, he wanted them to have their eye on a goal from the outset.
“I had both teams make goals at the beginning of the year,” he said. “The guys wanted to qualify for regionals and would like to win our district. We have some pretty good competition, though. Indian Hill and Wyoming are always good, but the top four make it.
“It’s the same thing with the girls and this could be the year.”
The Lions are just warming up. With four races under their belts, New Richmond has six more races before districts start, including their own invitational and the Southern Buckeye Conference league race on Oct. 13.
The Lions’ eyes are looking upstate and Shebesta is confident that his teams have what it takes to make a run.
“If we can run some PRs and not get injured, we should be in good shape,” he said. “That’s the big thing, staying healthy.”
The Lions were in action at Georgetown on Wednesday, Sept. 12 and will be again on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Milford.