LAFAYETTE — When Centaurus the boys cross country team won the Class 4A state title on a crisp autumn day in 2011, it not only shocked the state. The school’s first title in the sport also shocked the Warriors’ top runner.
“Everything just clicked at state,” Chandler Reid said recently. “We were getting better and better as the season went on, but I don’t believe anyone thought we were going to contend for the title.”
With the team’s first title behind them the Warriors now face a new challenge — maintaining their status at the top.
Reid, who finished third with a time of 16 minutes, 39.82 seconds at state, understands his team has its work cut out for it. The biggest challenge, he points out, is filling the sizable hole Centaurus has in its pack after losing its second, third and fourth runners to graduation. But even with some headwinds, the top runner believes his team still has the pace to dust much of its competition.
“We have a young team, that is for certain,” Reid said. “But with our coaching staff we can be up there again.”
Devin Rourke was at the center of the Warriors’ success last season with the first-year coach making all the right moves for the championship. And while the physics graduate student foresees a long and potentially bumpy road ahead in 2012, he is not writing off another run to the top.
“I think we’re contenders again,” he said. “But we’ve got to be willing to put in the work again. If we do and see improvement each week, then I think we’ll be up there again.”
Much of the spotlight has revolved around the Centaurus boys and if they can stay on top, but Rourke believes his girls squad is also on the cusp of a big showing on the state stage. What has the coach’s optimism going through the roof is the amount of returners he has to work with from the girls’ run to fifth in 2011. With the entire pack in tact, Rourke has more than enough talent to push for top spot.
“We’re returning a lot of girls and they are more motivated than ever,” he said. “They know what they are capable of and want to make it happen.”
Rourke has his eyes peeled for Erin Twaddell to continue to push the front of the pack. But the coach also believes the senior will be pushed, with the Warriors’ split between their scoring runners less than 1 minute. But physical ability is not the only asset the coach believes the girls bring into the season.
“They also saw what the boys were capable of last year, so they’re really feeding off that,” Rourke said.
Team goals are the main focus of the Centaurus coaches and their runners. But individual goals aren’t being swept under the carpet.
Reid has some of the loftiest ambitions on the season. The senior is quickening his pace for a run at the individual state title. But that is just one of many high marks with which he aims to cap his successful run with the Warriors.
Reid is aiming to set the course, school and personal record at the Warriors’ home meet. And he has aspirations to qualify for a shot to run on the national stage.
“Footlocker Nationals has been a huge goal of mine since my sophomore year,” he said. “And I feel like I have the ability to get there this year.”
Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.