Like many in the Centaurus cross country program, Jake Link took note of the prowess of former Warriors standout Chandler Reid.
Link did a little more than that, however. He was Reid’s understudy.
He gleaned wisdom from the 2013 graduate’s training habits and race-day strategies, knowing the time would come when Link himself would be the Warriors’ key runner.
That time is now.
With Reid off to Adams State, Link has inherited the role of Centaurus’ best distance runner — and the junior is excited about it.
“I learned from Chandler that training over the summer is huge and basically the key to success,” Link said. “It’s a little different when he’s gone, but it’s still a good new vibe. I’m ready for the responsibility.”
Link is aiming for a “top-five finish at state, for sure” and believes it is a reasonable goal if he stays healthy.
“He’s just super tough,” Centaurus coach Devin Rourke said. “He’s one of the most determined and toughest athletes I’ve ever coached.”
The Warriors were surprise state title winners two seasons ago and could represent well again this fall. While Link is the budding star, Rourke’s squad also features junior captain Brody Tobin and sophomore standout Brooks MacDonald, among others.
“We have a summer running program that is totally optional, and we had a good turnout,” Rourke said. “It was probably the best summer we had, so we’re building off of that.”
On the girls side, sophomore Maggie Moline is an up-and-coming standout. After a solid freshman season in both cross country and track, Moline has defined goals for this fall.
“I would really like to break 20 (minutes) here in Colorado,” Moline said. “We went to Nike Cross Regionals in Arizona last season and I did it there, but I haven’t broke it in Colorado.”
Moline and the rest of the Warriors will have an immediate test Thursday at the pre-state meet at the Norris-Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs. The venue also will serve as host for the state championship meet, as it did last season, so runners will be afforded an immediate diagnosis of where they’re at.
“We’re just trying to get a feel for it now,” Moline said.
Centaurus is dealing with a few minor injuries on the girls side, as senior captain Kelsey Wood and classmate Evie Strohl are banged up to begin the season.
The Warriors can lean on a strong incoming freshman class, including Meghan Davinroy. Davinroy’s sister, Hannah, was a senior last season, as was Moline’s sister, Rachel.
The older sisters are best friends and will keep tabs on the younger sisters as they represent what looks to be a formidable squad.
“It’s a solid group of girls,” Rourke said. “They’ve been working hard and they’ve got the drive.”
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