Members of the Clovis High School girls cross county team workout Tuesday at Ned Houk Park. Clovis opens its season on Saturday in the Borger Invitational. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
It’s a long dropoff from second place in the state Class 5A cross country meet two years ago to not qualifying last season, but Clovis High senior Mike Wareham is looking for the silver lining.
“It was pretty disappointing, but we learned from it,” Wareham said as the CHS cross country teams prepared for Saturday’s season-opening Borger (Texas) Invitational. “It was pretty hard because we had a lot of new guys. When it came to district, it pretty much came down to an individual thing.”
The Wildcats return five of their top seven runners from a year ago. Meantime, Clovis’ girls have four runners back from a team that finished ninth in the state meet.
“Practice has been going well,” fourth-year Clovis coach Brian Stacy said. “We’ve gotten a little more mileage under our belts (over) last year.
“I think the girls are going to be fine. On the guys’ side, we’re going to have to get up and run (better) this year.”
Wareham and junior James Dickenson lead the boys’ returnees, joined by seniors Josh Worley and Chris Chavez and junior Brian Croke. A sophomore, Bryan Davis, could also give the Cats a lift.
Wareham is anxious for Saturday’s meet.
“I like this one,” he said of the Borger course. “It’s got so many different elements — hills and straightaways and dirt.
“I’m trying to match myself to the team two years ago. I’m not exactly sure where I’m at, but I hope to get in the top 10 at state. I think our guys are doing pretty good, especially James and Bryan.”
Stacy said he expects a good season from Wareham.
“Mike has improved from last year to this year,” Stacy said. “He went to a runners’ camp in Colorado this summer and learned a few things.”
Unlike most meets in New Mexico, where boys and girls both run three miles, the boys will run three miles in this one while the girls run two.
For the girls, junior Tori Northcutt and seniors Monica Soto, Vanessa Croke and Kelsey Wymore are back from last year. The Lady Cats are also looking for good things this season from freshman Caitlin Waters and eighth-grader Michelle Schenck, both Yucca Junior High students.
Vanessa Croke thinks the Lady Cats have the people in place to return to state.
“We’ll probably get there again this year,” she said. “All the girls are really close, and we try to keep everything positive.”
She said she finished in the bottom half of the pack at last year’s state meet but, like Wareham, she has her sights set on a big move up.
“I think I got around 75th (place last year),” she said. “I’d like to be way up there this year. I’m ready to get (to Borger) and just start the season off.”