With five runners on the roster, the Marion cross-country team will compete for individual accolades in 2017.
Coach Dmitry Bucklin, returning for his second season, said he’s implementing new strategies regarding communication and workout plans this year.
“I guess (I’m) even just being a better communicator with them,” he said. “I can tell that I’ve already changed that aspect. (I’m) working on trying to figure out the proper workouts—when to do them and how to do them—to help them peak at the right time.”
Boys—Marion will run without graduated seniors Tyler Arocha and Devin Regnier this year.
However, senior Colin Williams returns as the Warriors’ only upperclassman. He turned in a season-best time of 18 minutes, 19.6 seconds at the Class 3A regional meet at Council Grove a year ago, finishing 11th and just one place from qualifying for state.
“(Colin’s) a very self-determined runner and a very good team player,” Bucklin said, adding that Williams could break 18 minutes this year.
“He ran about 300 miles this summer, so he showed up to practice ready to go.”
Two newcomers complete the boys’ roster: freshmen Colton Boudreaux and Nathan Shields. This will be Shields’ first year of cross-country.
“I haven’t seen (Nathan) run in a race yet, but based on how he’s practicing, he will definitely be taking some medals home, I would suspect,” Bucklin said. “(Colton’s) also been a great runner. He showed that in eighth grade last year, my first year with him.”
Bucklin said he expects a healthy competition between the two on race day.
Girls—The Warriors will run this season without graduated senior Emily Hague, who was the girls’ highest finisher at the Class 3A regional meet at Council Grove last year. She placed 20th (22:36.4).
Sophomore Bethany Grimmett is a returning letter-winner. She turned in a season-best time of 24:42.8 at the Heart of America league meet at Inman and finished 43rd at regionals (25:05.7).
“I think this will be a growing year for (Bethany),” Bucklin said. “I know she has some personal goals with times and placing and stuff like that.”
Elisa Barba, a junior foreign exchange student, joins the team for the first time.
“I am really looking forward to watching Elisa run this year,” Bucklin said. “She has never done cross-country before. She appears to be a very hard worker and is willing to go outside her comfort zone.”
Asked how he would define a successful season, Bucklin, who also teaches music at Marion, said: “I’ve told the runners this, and I tell my bands this, anybody that I work with, is, for me, success is did you give your best?”