A group of four juniors and a freshman make up this year’s cross country squad at Bellville’s Faith Academy and head coach Ann Howarth is more than ready to rock and roll with this group.
Joshua Bright is the lone newcomer to high school, following in the footsteps of returners Landon Bright, Eric Carlin, Josh Poorman and Taylor Hetzel.
“I think they’re excited because Joshua is a big addition to the team and they’ve got the experience so that also helps them feel a little more confident,” Howarth said. “All five of them are going to work very hard and give 100 percent, all five of them.”
After Brianna Gallaher graduated a four-time state champion, Howarth’s lone female runner in the program might only be entering sixth grade but she’s already putting in the work to follow the route of her predecessor.
“I’m grooming one in middle school and she’s going to be my next Brianna, hopefully,” she said of Savannah Goebel.
Until she’s ready to go, these five young men will embark on the 2019 season full of promise and Howarth can see it forming already.
“I finally feel like I’ve got five strong ones and they know it so I think that helps out with their work ethic and I think they can depend on each other,” she said. “They all five want to do well, they want to finish, of course, as high as they can at the state meet. We’ve finished fifth the last two years and I know they want to finish ahead of that just because there’s a plaque involved and it’s a little more prestigious.”
They will surely need to be healthy in order to accomplish that feat and that may end up being easier said than done.
“We’re a little concerned with Josh Poorman because he’s still battling an injury from last year,” Howarth added. “It took him out of track, it took him out of cross country, well he made it to the state meet but he wasn’t able to perform. He’s got a hip and groin injury that just will not go away so we kind of have to watch him right now.”
Ready or not, Faith Academy’s season found its starting point Aug. 17 at the Incarnate Word Academy Meet and Howarth knows the key to getting these young men through the regular season and beyond.
“I think they can place fourth,” she said. “I’m pretty relentless, I’m on them all the time I was already griping at one of them earlier, ‘Landon why are you so far back today?’ ‘I’m talking with Taylor about computers.’ I said ‘No, get going.’ I push them pretty hard.”