XC program at PIHS faring well
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Wildcat cross country teams got underway for the regular season Aug. 25, 2014, with meets also held in Ellsworth and Caribou the following two weekends, and hopes are high for a successful season.
An early-season look at both squads follow:
A strong senior class propelled the Presque Isle Wildcats boys cross country team to a high level of success a year ago. With a third-place finish in the PVC championships, fourth at the Eastern regionals and a respectable 10th in the States, the bar is set very high for the returnees and newcomers on this year’s squad.
Saul Nunez, Trevor Levesque, Dustin Drabek, Josh Jones, Frank Nunez, Connor Seward and manager Alex Hemphill have all graduated, and a new group of runners will have their work cut out for them in order to mirror that success. Coach Justin Fereshetian sees a lot of potential when he looks at the 2014 version of his team.
Leading the Wildcats is junior Jason Bartley, who trained hard all summer, including spending time as part of the Maine Winter Sports Center program, and should be posting very impressive times by the end of the season.
Senior Noah Rossignol did a lot of bicycle work this summer and built endurance. He has proven himself to be very consistent and reliable. Senior Cristian Nunez is the No. 3 and Fereshetian is excited by his prospects.
“The sky is the limit for Cristian. He has a lot of talent, and the interval workouts have been going very well,” said the coach.
Senior Austin Albert is in the No. 4 spot. He is coming off a good season a year ago and should do the same again. Newcomer Dustin Alward is making an impact as a freshman. Fereshetian sees him making an impact “and as long as he can avoid injuries, he will be a big asset to the team.”
Senior James Churchill is described as “one of the hardest workers on this team. He is a pleasure to coach.” Sophomore Jacob O’Berry is considered one of the up-and-coming runners who could see a lot of improvement throughout the course of the season.
Rounding out the squad is freshman Max Bartley. Fereshetian also sees a lot of potential with him.
“I’m hoping that Max’s skiing background will translate well in regards to his running season,” the coach said. “Max was also training this summer with the Maine Winter Sports Center.”
Junior manager Reece McDougal may also end up running a few races this season, but other commitments make it difficult for him to make all of the meets.
“We graduated a lot of guys from last season, including our top three scorers, but I am still optimistic about this year’s team. In our first meet this season we had a solid pack of four runners from our second to fifth finishers who were only about six seconds apart. That pack will have to get a little faster in order to disrupt the Caribou pack just in front of them,” Fereshetian said. “While we had a good first showing at the opening meet this season, I am confident that we have more in store for the remainder of the season. So our team goal this year is to qualify for the state meet. We have to finish in the top half of all the teams at regionals in order to do so.”
Michael Waugh is taking his coaching skills down the river this season, as he has gone from the head coaching position at Washburn for the past four years to manning the girls’ cross country job at Presque Isle High School.
Washburn’s success has been well documented in that time frame, and Waugh is hoping to bring that competitive spirit and winning attitude to the Wildcat runners.
“I’m excited and optimistic,” stated Waugh. “The girls have been handling a new way of training this year. We do very specific workouts and have increased our mileage. They’ve responded very well and are also excited about the team’s prospects for the year.”
Although it is early in the season, Presque Isle’s No. 1 runner thus far is Mandy Graham. The junior worked hard in the off season and is described by Waugh as “very fit after a great summer of training.” Isabelle “Izzy” Jackson is a freshman who has stepped up to the No. 2 spot and Waugh sees a lot of potential in her. Emily Colligan is close behind, and Waugh believes she will play a vital role as one of the Wildcats’ top three runners. She is working through some shin splints, but put in a lot of miles this summer and is poised to have some big time drops in the course of the season. These top three have worked hard and will undoubtedly mix up their results all season long.
Senior Hilary Boucher is the No. 4 runner and she adds leadership and experience to a group which Waugh describes as “slightly older but relatively new to cross country.” Juniors Alyssa Sweeney and Karen Jones are currently in the five and six positions. Both are trying cross country for the first time and have done remarkably well. Waugh sees them as getting better each time out.
Erica Corey, a sophomore, and freshmen Olivia Mosher and Ellie Goheen are very dedicated and display real grit. They are hard workers and will continue to make big gains through the season leading up to the post season.
Ally Bell is a junior also trying cross country for the first time and has done well adapting to the challenge, while Rachel Maxwell is a returning junior who has also been very helpful with her experience and encouraging nature.
“They’ve responded very well and are also excited about the team’s prospects for the year. Each race will show our progress, but a big one is always the Festival of Champions in Belfast. I will have a pretty good idea of where we stand in Eastern Maine after that race,” Waugh said.
“I think we can sneak into the top half and finish higher in the States. The potential and talent is on this team to bring PI back to the competitive status. I’m personally excited for a new challenge after coaching at Washburn for the past four years. I’d like to see the girls bring the same kind of success to PI in Class B,” he added.