Bulldogs’ experience and leadership permeates down to their younger teammates

The Stith twins, Hunter and Griffin, are co-captains as juniors.

The Stith twins, Hunter and Griffin, are co-captains as juniors.
By Chris Chaney
Sun staff

The Batavia cross country team has a solid group of upperclassmen that are doing their best to make the most out of some of their last seasons and in doing so are helping the younger members of the team to go above and beyond their own goals.

“The Stith twins (Griffin and Hunter) are continuing to push each other and have been leading the team,” head coach Dona Braswell said of her co-captains. “They’ve also worked with the other kids and are coming together as a team quite well.”

One of the younger kids who has stepped his game up is freshman Andrew Truske. Braswell was quick to sing his praises and believes that he has a bright future at Batavia.

“Andrew Truske is a freshman whose come along and started to develop his style and reach his potential a little bit more,” Braswell said.

On the girls’ side of things, the Lady Bulldogs are doing their best to keep up with the stellar pace set by their male counterparts, and in some cases, they are even exceeding those expectations.

The top runner for the girls, Hannah Winter, is also a freshman, but has already established herself as one of the best runners around.

“Hannah Winter won an invitational that we went to last week, (Bethel-Tate Invitational),” Braswell said. “She’s really come on strong. As a freshman, she’s probably at the level of one of the top-10 runners in the district. She’s really come out and worked hard.”

Winter isn’t alone in doing well in her 2012 campaign. Co-captains Becca Ewing and Lindsey Shepherd are having stellar seasons and leading the way for the Lady Bulldogs.

“The other girls are pushing each other,” Braswell said. “It’s the same with the boys. The older kids are leading the way, but the younger kids are pushing them along as well. It helps to develop the team if you have everyone pushing each other to reach their best and be their best.”

As is usually the case with cross country, numerous individuals having success translates to a solid team finish as well, which is certainly the case for the Bulldogs this year.

“Last weekend we ran Bethel(-Tate Invitational) and the boys’ team took second and the girls’ took fourth, but again, Hannah Winter took first there out of 80 or 90 runners.

“That was big because a lot of our league was there, especially the bigger schools from our side of the conference.”

Winter ran a 20:02 to win by 18 seconds.

“The boys took second and Hunter and Griffin (Stith) took fourth and fifth and then there was four or five kids right in the pack that were up there. I think we had 13 out of 16 runners get personal bests there.”

It would appear as if Batavia is peaking at the right time of the year with the end of the season nearing closer. Along with the good running taking place, the expectations have skyrocketed for the teams.

“I hope to take first or at least top two in the league (for the boys) and then I think we have a pretty good chance of qualifying for regionals,” Braswell said. “The girls definitely have a pretty good chance of qualifying for regionals as well. Our girls’ side has done better than any since I’ve been here so I’m really proud of them. I think they’ve really caught on to the vision of how to work hard and improve.”