WOODWARD — Last year Woodward-Granger resurrected a cross country program that had been dormant for over a decade. Now, as the second season begins, the decision to do so certainly appears to have been a wise one.
“I am really excited about this season,” head coach Dave Smeltzer said. “Last year our motto was ‘We May Be Small, But We Are Strong’ and now this year we have 25 high school and 13 junior high runners out, with nine high school runners returning from last year.”
Sixteen boys and nine girls are out for grades 9-12, with eight boys and five girls for grades 7-8. There are four seniors, four juniors, 10 sophomores and seven freshmen, giving Smeltzer plenty of choices. Eight eighth graders are out and five seventh graders.
“Our four seniors — Kaitlyn Peters, Chandler Cavanaugh, Hunter Pierce and Cole Theisen — are leading the team and I can’t wait to see what is in store for us this season,” Smeltzer said. “We have a lot of new faces this season and — wow! — there are a lot of good athletes in this bunch of kids.”
Originally scheduled for six regular season meets plus the state qualifier, Smeltzer prevailed upon Activities Director Matt Eichhorn to add four additional regular season contests.
Smeltzer said that while the sheer numbers were even to make him smile, it was the quality of the runners and their work ethic that has built his excitement.
“They all work hard and have lots of mental toughness,” he said. “I feel we have great strength from our freshman through our seniors. This is a good, solid bunch.”
The promise of sustained prospects of success has not gone unnoticed.
“The junior high athletes keep impressing me,” Smeltzer said. “Every day they get stronger and stronger, which is going to help build this program in the years to come. I am really enjoying coaching this group.”
The Hawk harriers will be in action tonight at AC/GC and will then visit Madrid August 31.