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Stigler, runners ready for cross country season

(Sept. 5, 2014) Twenty boys and 18 girls make up the Stephen Decatur cross country teams this season. About half of the athletes on each squad have previously competed in either cross country, indoor and/or outdoor track.

“We have numbers this year, which is good,” said third-year Coach Jody Stigler. “I’m really excited about the season and looking forward to meets.”

Leading the boys’ team will be seniors Jake Gaddis and Parker Harrington and freshman newcomer Jack Reimer.

Stigler expects Gaddis, a four-year runner, to be consistent throughout the season.

“I remember what it’s like to be a freshman and be an underclassman and just be in the back of the pack and I can help them know that it gets better. As they get older and as they get stronger they will get faster and they will start to understand that running is 75 percent in your head,” he said. “We’ve got a really good team and a really nice group of students and I think we’re going to have a great year.”

Harrington improved during the 2014 spring outdoor track season, Stigler said, and he expects a solid performance during cross country.

“The sky’s the limit” for Reimer, Stigler added.

The top five runners from each team score points during meets. Stigler is looking for other athletes on the boys’ squad to step up.

“A lot of the kids haven’t run before. Especially on the boys side, the freshmen have the opportunity to improve a lot,” Stigler said.

So far, senior Jenna Reimer, a transfer from North Penn High School in Pennsylvania, has consistently been the fastest female runner.

“I”m really excited for the season, and just everybody’s been so nice. It’s exciting to be part of this team,” Reimer said.

She had the opportunity to meet and train with some of her new teammates during summer workout sessions. Reimer also said it will be fun to run with her brother, Jack, this season.

Although she is new to the squad, Stigler will look to her to guide the group.

Reimer said she will do that by “setting a good example, by trying hard in practices and by helping the freshmen adjust to high school and the team. Just kind of encourage people to do their best…”

“I think we’re all training very hard and we definitely have a very good shot at making it to states this year,” she continued. “My personal goal, I want to try and go out and be one of the best in the state this year especially that it’s my senior season, and for the team, I want us all to go to states as a team and finish well.”

Stigler will also count on veterans, juniors Alison Alvarado and Katie Hofman, senior Meya Chilengi and sophomore Peyton Dunham as well as newcomer Rachel Savage, a junior, to help lead the squad.

“I think the girls will be pretty good this year,” Stigler said. “Our two through nine spots, we have depth.”

Stigler will rely on the seniors to run both squads, be inspirational leaders and “show the younger kids how to work.”

“The goal is to focus and do well against south schools then do well at Baysides,” Stigler said. “We hope every year we will be competitive when the championship comes.”

In 2013, the Decatur boys’ and girls’ teams finished fourth during the Bayside Conference championship meet. Runners who placed in the top 15 were named All-Conference athletes. Alvarado (15th) and Gaddis (12th) received accolades.

The Lady Seahawks took fifth during the 3A South Regional meet to advance to the state finals. It was the first time since 2006 an entire Decatur cross country team qualified for the 3A state meet. The boys’ finished seventh at regionals. Alvarado placed ninth at regionals to take home All-Region honors.

Stephen Decatur seniors Jake Gaddis, second from left, and Jenna Reimer, center front, lead the cross country squads on a warm-up jog last Thursday.

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