Sometimes having a team loaded with youth is a problem, but not so for Coach Vic Bowman and his Manchester cross-country squads. Loaded with young talent, the Greyhound cross-country program looks like it could be a dominating force for the next few years.
“Our girls team fared very well last year,” said Coach Bowman. “We won the SHAC, finished as runners-up in the district, and then 10th at regionals, our highest finish ever. We lost Sierra Farley and Tiffany Ricketts to graduation but have our top five finishers returning.”
Those top five girls are a pretty impressive group, made up of junior Amanda Farthing and sophomores Shyanne Tucker, Kelsey Friend, Lydia Lopez, and Xena Crummie, all of whom placed in the top 10 in the team’s first run this year at the Aug. 23 Fayetteville Invitational. Taylor Hackney, Zoie Storer, and Karemiah Brooks round out the girls roster of runners.
“Even being young, our strength with the girls is our experience,” says Bowman. “They have run in a district meet and on regional and state courses. Our weakness is one I hoped we would make a strength, summer miles. We did not put in the amount of work and miles I set for them over the summer.”
“To be successful, our team must improve and stay healthy as we don’t have a lot of depth. The target will be on our backs, especially in the league. We can win it again, but the girls will have to step up and all will have to run well. There are some good teams gunning for us and we must be prepared or we will be toppled from that top spot.”
Coach Bowman thinks that he will have a very interesting boys team this year and the team already sprung a surprise by winning the Fayetteville Invitational.
“We didn’t do very well last year with the boys,” said Bowman. “We had little experience and only six runners. Our bright spot was Rickey DeAtley who earned all-district honors and advanced to the districts.”
DeAtley returns for his junior season and will be joined by seniors J.D. Stamper and Michael Crummie. Junior Jacob Purdon and sophomore Brendon Kessler will be joined by an outstanding freshman class of runners, led by Ethan Pennywitt, Gage Lucas, Austin Stamper, Jamie Combs, and newcomer Logan Hanson, a transfer from Ripley.
“How quickly this group of freshmen makes the transition to high school will go a long way in determining our success.” said Bowman. “Sophomore Ryan Dryden joined us recently and he will add some depth as he gets experience.”
“I think all five freshmen will make an impact as the season progresses and they adapt to the longer race and gain some experience against tougher competition. Our league is really strong and I don’t see us at the top this year, but we hope to make a run at those teams and finish respectably. Who knows, maybe we can challenge next year as most of our guys will be back again.”