Warren boys’ cross country team to beat in SEOAL

VINCENT – Warren’s boys have pretty much dominated the SEOAL (Southeastern Ohio Athletic League) cross country championships since 2008.

Six consecutive years, the Warriors have claimed league crowns.

Don’t look, now, but Warren didn’t lose a whole lot personnel-wise from the 2013 squad. Oh, the royal blue and white is definitely going to miss Ohio Division II all-stater Parker Blain, who’ll be running at Shawnee State University this fall, and other Warrior graduates.

As for the returnees…well, let’s just say that some coaches might call it reloading.

“On the boys side, we have two seniors returning from a league championship team along with a state qualifier in Sam Goodman,” said first-year Warren cross country coach Neil Brague, who is succeeding Debbie Proctor at the helm. Proctor will be devoting more of her duties to her athletic director position at the school.

“He (Goodman) put in a lot of quality miles in over the summer and looks healthy and strong,” Brague continued. “I expect him to not only win the league, but qualify again to the state cross country meet and make all-state status by breaking into the top 20.”

Last November 2, Goodman covered the 5k distance at the OHSAA State Cross Country Championships at National Trail Raceway in Hebron in 17 minutes, 05.69 seconds, good for 52nd place.

Warren’s other senior is Joel Estes.

“Joel’s made improvements every season,” Brague said. “He has been a big part of our league championship teams and is a blue-collar runner. Joel does what we ask without question.”

Brague paused.

“Our seniors are not very vocal leaders,” the coach said. “I see them being leaders that lead by example.”

Brent Ash and Cole Welch are the two Warrior juniors on the team. Last season, Ash nearly joined Blain and Goodman at state but came up short with an 18th-place finish in 17:18.80 at the Pickerington regional.

Later, in the spring of this year, Ash went to state in track as a member of Warren’s 4×800 relay team.

Ash is expected to be on a mission this fall.

“Brent has also been putting in quality miles all summer, while working a full time job,” Brague said. “He expects to be with Sam (Goodman) at the state meet this year.”

Welch is back from an injury-riddled sophomore season. According to Brague, “he has also worked hard over the summer and has dedicated himself to be better.”

Six Warrior sophomores are on the roster, including Jed McGirr, Colton Barnes, Cameron Cantley and William Christian. New to the team will be Joel Corbitt and Nathan Long.

“Both have run track,” Brague said. “We have no freshman.”

The Warren girls cross country team will also be paced by two seniors – Hannah Dugan and Sydney Brague (coach’s daughter).

Dugan was the top Lady Warriors’ runner at district with a 14th-place finish in 21:47. The team itself finished sixth.

“Both girls have worked hard running year-long for both cross country and track and have earned the respect of their underclassmen runners,” Neil Brague said. “Both senior girls have dedicated themselves to the program and have done everything that has been asked of them over the last four seasons.

“Both would love to go out on a league championship; they have been runner-up (as a team) the last three years. Both ladies also want to qualify as a team to the regional meet at Pickerington again. I feel they have the ability to qualify to the regional as individuals, but they are going to have to “make it hurt” the entire race at the district. Being fast is a physical thing, but being able to endure the discomfort that goes along with having to run fast is a mental thing. These girls have learned to not be afraid to be tired.”

The Warren girls roster will also be featuring one junior, Marlee Stollar, a first-year cross country runner. Stollar is a volleyball player, and also has competed in track and field.

Kaylee Pate and Katelin Stull are the two sophomores on the squad. Pate ran last season in junior high, while Stull will be in her rookie XC campaign.

Hoping to break into the girls’ top 7 will be freshmen Caitlyn Burroughs, Katelyn Chesser, and Sable Shields.

“All three girls ran in junior high,” Brague said, “so this has been a smooth transition. Just add one mile to the race distance.”

Overall on Warriors cross country, Brague said the teams have had “18 runners coming to practice on a consistent basis for the last three practices.”

“We may pick up one, or two, more,” he said. “It looks like we will have eight girls, up one more from last year.”