Oly tidal wave looks for another XC crown

Olympic’s Peter Duane (left) and John Wojtech, shown here at last year’s Olympic League Championships at Fort Warden State Park in Port Townsend, are back to help try and defend that crown for the Trojans this season. - Photo by Aaron Managhan/2006
Olympic’s Peter Duane (left) and John Wojtech, shown here at last year’s Olympic League Championships at Fort Warden State Park in Port Townsend, are back to help try and defend that crown for the Trojans this season.
— image credit: Photo by Aaron Managhan/2006

Without warning, the Olympic League cross country ranks were drowned in a tidal wave of blue and white.

The Olympic Trojans boys cross-country squad, which won the Oly League crown a year ago, is looking now to defend that title. But this year, no one will be caught off guard.

“We were the unknowns of last year,” Oly coach Greg Chapman said. “No one gave us much credit.”

And while Chapman knows this year will be different, the Trojans are still looking to reach new heights.

“Now we’re looking for the next mountain,” he said. “We’re not looking back and saying, ‘Hey, look at us.’ This year, we have the bull’s-eye on us.”

With a bulk of returners on the boys’ side returning with that postseason experience, Chapman said the team’s strengths easily overcome its only glaring weakness.

“Our weakness is we don’t have a true frontrunner,” he said. “But our best strength is we have five guys within 18 seconds of one another.”

Back are John Wojtech, Brenden Schruhl, Brent Groulik, Peter Duane and Aaron Newman from last year’s crew. With 34 total runners out this year, slightly less than in previous years, Chapman said he’ll be relying on that core to anchor the boys team.

“It helps the new ones,” Chapman said. “And we have an awful lot of new ones this year.”

Like Johnathan Bergerman, who placed 35th in the middle of Oly’s runners in perhaps the best gauge of the team’s performance so far at the Salt Creek Invitational in Port Angeles last weekend.

The Trojan boys took fourth in a meet won by North Kitsap, with Lake Stevens and Bellevue taking the spots in between. Proving the pack mentality, Wojtech was the team’s top runner, placing 21st individually.

The Trojans picked up a win Wednesday at Kitsap Fairgrounds. Oly’s boys topped Sequim and Kingston in that race.

“Actually, we’ve got a solid boys team and the girls team is starting to come along,” Chapman said. “All that is exciting.”

On the girls side, returners Camie Yeik (38th at Salt Creek) and Rebecca Campbell (79th) lead the way.

“They have good experience,” Chapman said. “Again, we have several girls that are new to cross-country running.”

While the Oly girls don’t have quite the same bulk of returners as the boys, Chapman said he’s confident the team can get into a rhythm.

“On the girls side, we’re still trying to figure out our team assets,” he said. “We’re in great shape. We’re certainly not in panic mode or anything. We’ll take every day at a time, one race at a time and have some fun as we go.”

So far, both sides to the team have taken on increased leadership roles with the influx of newcomers.

“I’m putting more on the returners to show leadership to everyone else,” Chapman said. “The kids have been really great about catching on quick.”

And there’s been a lot to catch on to.

“Then it’s good eating and sleeping habits,” he said. “The new ones don’t have the mindset of what training involves.”

Chapman said it’s too early to see exactly how either squad will be against it’s Oly League competition, but he said both should be running with the pack.

“It’s hard to really guess to tell you the truth how we’ll stack up,” he said. “But we will be in the hunt.”

Especially the boys team.

“Again, we have to have the right people behind us to make that work well,” Chapman said. “I call it our tidal wave. It’s a sea of white and blue coming in.”

The Trojans travel to the Tomahawk Twilight Invitational at 7 p.m. in Marysville before taking on Peninsula and Port Angeles in PA Tuesday.

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