CHS Cross-Country will be strong again

Colville High lost some significant talent off last season’s State 1A runner-up boy’s team and a strong girl’s contingent. But the Indians have enough returning talent and some talented newcomers who should make one of the top Class A programs competitive once again. Early-on, veteran head coach Dean Fischer is talking a lot about “rebuilding.” And how could blame him. CHS lost state competitors Colton Hastings and Alaina Kowitz to graduation. “You can’t expect to replace the speed and endurance of Colton Hastings, or the quiet leadership of Alaina Kowitz…or the commitment of a Jake Nielsen, overnight. But that said, we fully expect to be a very good cross-country team. I am excited to finally get the season underway.” Season opener Colville opened official practice sessions on Monday. The Indians will open the season on Sept. 7 at Chewelah Golf & Country Club with the Chewelah Jamboree. The first official meet of the season will come Saturday, Sept. 10 when the Indians head to Spokane and the big Meadlander Invitational. The road to the top of the NEA will be a tough one again for Colville. Looming is defending State 1A boy’s champion Lakeside. The Eagles will return a solid nucleus of runners and all the key elements of their state championship team. On the girl’s side, Riverside returns its entire 2010 state championship squad and, like Lakeside, will be a favorite to repeat at Pasco and State. Coach Fischer says he hopes his boys come into camp hungry. “I think they felt they missed an opportunity to grab a little history last fall when Lakeside bit us at State,” Fischer said. “While most teams would be ecstatic with second place, these guys felt they had the brass ring within their grasp and let it slip away. We will see what kind of motivation last year’s misstep in the big dance might provide. The guys clearly have the talent to make every race interesting.” Look for Colville to rely more on a pack mentality and less on individual speed this fall. Pack mentality “It’s not like we don’t have plenty of speed,” Fischer said. “We do. But we will try and better use our speed by pulling our middle runners closer to the leaders.” Back in 2005, Fischer’s boys utilized a well-organized pack to run away with the school’s only state championship. “I think we have the pieces to do very well, but we have to remember it is literally a million strides to November and anything can happen.” Leading the Colville boys will be the potent duo of sophomore Kevin Carpenter and senior Biagio Pietroburgo. Piegroburgo experienced an up and down season last year where he filled the consolation spot behind Hastings, who is now running for the University of Idaho. “Biagio has as much talent and ability as any runner Colville has ever produced,” Fischer said. “He has the ability to be a legend. It is simply a matter of desire.” There is no doubt that Carpenter will push Pietroburgo this fall. As a freshman, Carpenter was quickly tagged as the second best freshman in the state. “Kevin demonstrates an uncommon knowledge of running and the strategies involved,” Fischer said of his talented sophomore. “We expect the lessons he learned last season will pay big dividends this fall.” According to Fischer, senior Ethan Cabbage, a track and field standout for CHS, “is a gifted student who has the distinction of also being a talented athlete. “Ethan has demonstrated moments of running brilliance, but is yet to put a string of races together,” his coach said, adding that he hopes that two medals Cabbage captured at last spring’s state track and field championship at Eastern Washington University will provide the springboard he needs this fall. He and teammate Chris Lane are keys to CHS success this fall. Key contributors There is a general feeling in the Colville cross-country camp that if Lane and Cabbage run to their potential, the Indians will be in the mix when November and the post-season arrive. “I remember Chris (Lane) walking into practice as a freshman. Immediately you knew he was a great kid, but he showed us no signs that he would ever become a good runner, let alone a highly competitive runner. But here were are three years later and Chris has become a tremendous runner. His work ethic and desire to succeed are outstanding.” Lane will likely run in the three or four spot for the Indians, but will be pushing the leaders hard. He will find himself challenged by junior Dylan Schanz and sophomores Elijah Michaelson and Noah Baum. Both Schanz and Michaelson ran varsity most of last season and earned themselves a trip to State. Schanz, one of the top swimmers in the Northwest, will rely on his athletic ability and gritty determination to make him a force on area cross-country courses. Michaelson is expected to come into camp with the cardio capacity to quickly build some needed mileage and improve his base. Baum will be coming into camp off a successful track campaign. A couple of wildcards for the boys are the brothers Korovnik—Roman and Sergei. “Last season, Roman sat out with a broken leg, while Sergei spent a lot of his energy and time trying to bridge a language barrier and understand what cross-country was all about. “I remember Sergei’s first race last year,” Fischer said. “It was about a mile-and-a-half in when we realized he had no idea about the official distance. He was running with the leaders and we kept waiting for him to hit the wall. He finished in the top 10…I really expect this may be both boys breakout seasons. If even one of these two run to their potential, we will be faster than a lot of other teams.” On the girl’s side, Fischer admits there are some question marks. “We are in a down cycle,” he said. “We are just not getting the numbers of girls out that we need. While we see some rain at the end of the drought, we think we will still have another year of rebuilding and recruitment.” Fischer hopes that Kowitz’s heir apparent, senior Alison Price, is ready to lead the girls into the season. Kettle Crest 100 “Alison is a very good athlete who has worked hard to make herself a competitive runner,” Fischer said. “Again this season, she should be running among the leaders.” Price, recently wanting to test her limits of endurance, ran 100 miles over the Kettle Crest. Junior Dianna Mikheyeva will return for another season. “Dianna showed a lot of promise last year. She is like an Energizer Bunnny and her attitude is a big asset for her.” The Rogers sisters, Aubrey and Megan, should be a tough combination. Entering her senior season, Aubrey will be expected to run up front with the leaders, while little sister Megan may just make an early mark. Junior Jill Fenno returns and is stronger than ever, according to her coach. “She has worked as hard as any runner I have ever coached,” Fischer said. “She has run nearly non-stop for two years. Her work ethic is exceptional and her quiet demeanor and leadership by example are admirable.” Any talk around the Northeast A and in State A ranks pretty much starts with defending champion Lakeside (boys). The Eagles will be the team to beat in the NEA and will be a State favorite as well. “They will enter the season top-ranked,” Fischer said, adding that his Indians will also garner early accolades and could be ranked as high as number two in the boy’s top 10. Of course, early rankings mean nothing. Talk to Fischer in November. Riverside will also be strong. The Rams have spent a couple of years rebuilding their boys program. On the girl’s side, the easy favorites are Lakeside and Riverside. “We are hoping we can be in the mix (girls) in late October and November,” Fischer said. “If our kids want it badly enough, it will happen. They have the talent and ability. It is just a matter of putting it all into a package that works. We also have some incoming freshmen boys and girls we believe we can build a solid future with. I am pretty confident that Colville will make its presence felt and may surprise a few people. As always, the season will be one heck of a run.”