By Chris Chaney
The Batavia High School cross country team will have a new look, new coach and new course in 2014 after a long tenure of success headed up by Dona Braswell who has moved out of the area.
Randy Dorsey has taken over the reigns of the Bulldogs’ long-distance squads and plans to use his love of running and background in marathon coaching to help a younger demographic get the best out of their abilities.
“I’ve been coaching with Bob Ronker’s Running Spot as a half marathon coach for the past five or six years,” Dorsey explained. “I’ve done that and this was just a good opportunity to work with kids and help them to get a passion for it.”
Helping to develop that passion is a place that both the middle school and high school teams can call home. Program supporter Jennifer Smith got the ball rolling talking with the Batavia Township Trustees about using a path at the Township Center on Clough Pike.
“(Batavia Township Administrator) Rex Parsons and the Trustees were on board and it was a real win-win situation,” Dorsey explained. “They already had a 0.6 mile trail through the woods, so on (Aug. 8) we had the middle school and high school teams and their families come up and help mulch quite a bit of the course to give it some stability.
“Ron and Janet Bratton brought a big front loader to help move mulch. It was awesome to see the support and to be able to have a cross country course for the first time in a long time.”
The course stretches across the park and has access points behind the baseball fields as well as on the other side of the soccer fields meaning that runners can access the trail from both entry ways into the Township Center.
“It’s a true cross country course,” Dorsey said. “They’ll be running through some small creeks, a little bit of water. It’s hilly. It’s really nice.”
The wooded part of the trail will emerge to the rest of the course, which will be staked out in the field. The new trail not only gives the course a true cross country feel, but also a bit of respite from the sun during the hot early portions of the season.
Dorsey said that the Bulldogs are planning to use their course to host their own race later this season.
“We’re looking at hosting our own cross country meet in October,” he said. “We’re hoping that will bring some more revenue into the program and the athletic department.”
Dorsey also pointed out that the upcoming meet and course would not be possible without the help from the Board of Trustees, Trish Hiler and Parsons.
“It was a true collaboration,” he said. “When two organizations work together, great things can happen.”
Dorsey expounded upon that saying that he expects great things from his team as well. Despite graduating some strong runners last season, Dorsey spoke to the work ethic of a number of his runners led by Ryan Cooper and Matt Mackey, two senior captains.
On the girls’ side, Erin Mackey and Taylor Albright have been with the program for several years and Dorsey said they’ve been showing some promise in the preseason.
The Bulldogs got their season underway on Wednesday, Aug. 20 at Felicity-Franklin and will race next on Aug. 23 at Wilmington High School.