Milford’s youth-infused cross country squad ready for 2018 season

MILFORD – Eight of Milford High’s 10 girls on the current 2018-19 cross country roster will be stepping up to the starting line of a high school race for the first time when the competition season gets underway later this month.

Three of those eight freshmen girls, led by Alexandria Herber, helped the Milford Central Academy cross country squad post a perfect 6-0 record last fall.

Furthermore, six of those eight freshmen girls ran track and field together at MCA in the spring.

A handful of incoming freshmen on this year’s MHS girls squad helped the Milford Central Academy squad put up a perfect 6-0 record last fall (Special to The Chronicle).

“We’ve been best friends in the classroom, at lunch, on the team,” said Herber, who has the potential to compete as one of the top runners in the conference this season. “A lot of the freshmen girls who I ran with in middle school also did track and field, so we’ve bonded throughout the past three years in middle school. We’re a really close-knit group.”

Add in two more freshmen and seven sophomores on the boys’ squad and you have more than half of the Milford cross country program filled with underclassmen.

Milford cross country head coach Bob Spath and his coaching staff are both excited and anxious to see so many young runners stepping into this year’s program.

“A lot of them haven’t competed at the high school level so far, but the thing is they’re so coachable and they have such a good work ethic that it’s just been seamless,” said Spath, referring to both the boys’ and girls’ squads. “They’ve come in and everything we give them, they don’t complain, they do the work and they don’t ask for any days off. So, overall it’s just been really easy getting them into the flow of things.”

“I’m taking in everything the coaches throw at me and just working my hardest throughout practice, because no day is break day,” said Herber. “I really don’t know what competition is going to be like since this is really my first time as the baby of the group, but I’m excited to see how the older members run and just try to learn from them.”

On the team’s roster of nine, senior Stephanie Cabrera-Ruiz will bring veteran leadership for the crop of freshmen girls as they look to improve upon last year’s 2-9 regular season campaign.

On the boys’ side of things, three seniors will lead yet another young group of runners.

Cameron Hallman, Ethan Lang and Brian Saxon will be the only three competing seniors on the roster of 18.

The remaining 15 is made up of six juniors, seven sophomores and two freshmen.

“We have a young team, but I think there’s a lot of potential here and we can definitely build them up,” Lang explained. “We have a lot of veterans who are really experienced and are really good runners, and I think with the old guard we can kind of train the new guard and they’ll be able to carry on the program.”

With so many talented and hard-working runners coming from the Holly McKellop-coached MCA cross country program, coach Spath made sure to give credit where credit’s due. Coach McKellop has spent the last three seasons as the head coach for the cross country and track & field teams at MCA.

“Most of the girls ran middle school cross country, and they were successful at the middle school level,” he explained. “That program is really doing well. They get into some other activities sometimes – some girls want to get into volleyball or something like that – so we might lose a few here and there from the middle school program, but for the most part that program has been developed well and it’s really brought some good kids into our program.”

“They have good numbers,” Spath said of the MCA program. “They have a lot of kids trying out for the first time, so they have somewhere in that 50 kind of range and that’s good, because you want to have 50 come in and maybe 30 will stick and kind of come through the program.”

As far as leadership goes, Spath says they are currently developing their leaders heading into the 2018 season.

One of the boys’ top runners last season, Shannon Wilt, won’t be competing this year but will continue helping out with the team any way that he can.

Boys’ roster: freshmen Angelo Costantino and Robert Warren; sophomores Gregory Auguste, Troy Donavon, Dale Ostermann, James Stangl, Matthew Stangl, Tristan Stevenson and Conor Sylvester; juniors Jayden Arthurs, Dominic Feightner, Ashton Jerman, Moses Martinez, Casey Maule and Bryce Thompson; seniors Cameron Hallman, Ethan Lang and Brian Saxon.

Girls’ roster: freshmen Reina Fogel, Allison Gardner, Anneliese Hatfield, Alexandria Herber, Sophia Sobota, Haley Thompson, Paige Thompson and Kassidy Willey; junior Georgina Valdez; senior Stephanie Cabrera-Ruiz.

Team goals

“Our No. 1 goal every single year is to improve each athlete physically and equip them to run better as the season progresses,” said Spath. “If you’re running really, really well at the end of the season and you’re making dramatic improvements – or even any improvement at all – then we consider that a successful season.”

Milford’s first cross country meet is a tri-meet with Smyrna and Caesar Rodney Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 4 p.m.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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