NORTH ROBINSON — This cross country season will see the Colonel Crawford Eagles head out on their respective runs with a big name missing from previous years.
Chad Johnson and Wade Hopkins graduated last spring. Johnson, last year’s state champion, is at Iowa State University to run for their program, but head coach Jody Grove who has coached all 24 of her seasons at Crawford, will hope to find strength in numbers in 2018.
“I have 11 total boys out for the high school team, with seven of those runners being returning letterwinners,” Grove begins. “On the girls side, I have 14 runners with five returning after winning letters last season.”
Braxton James will headline the boys squad after a 2017 performance that earned him all-conference first-team honors in the Northern-10 Athletic Conference. Joining James from last season’s squad that earne a county championship, an N-10 title and a district championship en route to running at state will be Zach Leonhart, Mason McKibben, Alex Lawson, Jacob Hoffman and N-10 second-teamer Alex Mutchler.
For Crawford, they will look to defend their four consecutive N-10 titles this season and “keep the tradition of cross country at CCHS alive and well,” according to the head coach.
Over on the girls side, Grove will not have Courtney Britt or Kari Teglovic around after they crossed the stage and received their diplomas in the spring.
The Lady Eagles will have returners from last season that conquered a county championship, a conference runner-up spot as well as a district runner-up finish. Of those five returning letterwinners, three were awarded an all-conference nod in 2017.
Ally Hocker made the N-10 first team while Alison Manko, Hannah Willacker received honorable mention honors. Also back in 2018 will be Courtney Lyons and Katie Hopkins and the Lady Eagles are “eagerly looking to equal and improve on last year’s finishes,” states Grove.
Colonel Crawford will host just one home meet this season and that will take place on Saturday, August 25 when they’re set to hold their annual Early Bird Invite. On Saturday, September 15 and then again the following Saturday, the Eagles will be out at Amann Reservoir Park for the Galion Cross Country Festival and the Crawford County XC Meet, respectively.