Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The Berkeley Stags cross country team continues to make strides under the guidance of third-year coach Melissa Hicks.
“We started out small and have been able to add new runners each year,” Hicks said. “I am very excited coming into this season because I am fielding a group of 22 runners; 12 of these runners are returning from last season.”
State finalist and rising senior Austin Clewis headlines the strong nucleus returning. As a junior Clewis competed in the Class AAA cross country meet, posting a personal best 18:23 time. After a spring battling nagging foot ailments, Clewis is fit and posting quality times during summer workouts.
“This will be Austin’s third season with the team and I am looking forward to him having his most competitive season yet,” Hicks said. “He is much stronger as a runner this year and has matured a lot in the few years that I have known him.”
Clewis has already set a number of lofty goals to accomplish, according to Hicks. “I look forward to him making All-Region this year and making it all the way to the State Championship in November,” she said.
For Clewis, it’s about experience, building on last year’s results and running healthy.
“I don't want to stop running in high school because it gets a whole lot tougher in college,” he said. “Last year I don't think I did my best. This year I'm looking for 16:58 and hoping to beat the school record set at 17:03. This year also I really want to see the team make it to state instead of just me.”
Clewis was hampered by foot problems during the spring track season, but said so far this summer he’s been mostly pain free.
“Running pain free feels great,” he said. “But I do feel a little pain some times.”
In addition, Hicks looks to build on putting together a girls’ cross country team, and while she has just one returning harrier, she’s got a good one in eighth grader Carol Brayton.
“I haven’t had near the number of runners show up for the girls’ team,” Hicks said. “Carol was our only female runner last year and it appears that she will be our only female runner again this season. Carol was a strong runner for a seventh grader and I am eager to see what she is able to accomplish this season. I would love for us to have enough girls to field a full team of seven runners.”
Her boys’ team, in addition to Clewis, is also young. “We have 10 new runners this season with five of them being eighth graders,” the coach said. “This is a wonderful addition to our team.”
Hicks sees a tough region schedule again this season in Region 8-AAA and hopes for a second or third place finish at the region meet. Competition includes powerhouse Hilton Head, James Island and Hanahan.
“In order to do this we will have to work hard as a team and also as individuals, Hicks said. “I feel this is the year that we can finally be competitive and show other teams in our region and county that we are a team to be worried about.
“If we can stay injury free anything is possible.”
The Berkeley cross country roster, in addition to Clewis and Brayton, includes Preston Bell, Cooper Brayton, Matthew Brennan, Rischard Brown, Kyle Burgess, Trevor Cain, Jordan Davis, Justin Dalton, Robert Fleming, Ethan Fry, Aljajuan Gavins, Aaron Grant, Trevor Holt, Evan Hulst, Alexander Lilly, Tony Lilly, Gray Livingston, Keenan Shine, Stephan Tenney, Joshua Willis and Caleb Zink.