BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Jason Hester is the new head varsity cross country coach at Rockford, but is not new to coaching at the school. He has been the assistant cc coach the past two years and has close to 20 years coaching “everything under the sun” at the school.
Hester replaces Joel Peatrowsky, who is teaching at St. Michael-Albertville this year. He was a three-year letter winner in cross country at Independence High School in Kansas.
“I am not planning on changing much from the past two years,” said Hester. “Joe did a nice job with the kids and I hope to continue that. As for practices, we try to vary it from day to day to avoid the monotony. The runners are pretty self-motivated with individual goals.”
Assisting Hester is Jason Phillippi, “more of a running guru” who will enter the Chicago marathon in October.
The first meet is 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30 at Maple Lake. The 25-team Rockford Invitational starts at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6 at Shamrock Golf Course.
Both teams will be young and relatively inexperienced. The Rocket boys have one senior, McCormick Deering, who is out for the first time after playing soccer the past few years.
The Rockets return a core group of runners led by sophomore Nick Klonne, who is a captain along with junior Austin Achtelik. Sophomores Drew Haften, Nico VanDanacker, and Nathan Schumacher, as well as junior newcomer Ty Griffin round out a group that could challenge to be in the top half of the conference.
“The boys started practice last week in good condition,” said Hester. “They ended last season with a strong showing at sections where every boy ran a personal best time. We are a young team, but the core group of boys have been running together for three years and their hard work is starting to yield results.”
The girls have four seniors, but only two with varsity experience, Lydia Buffie and Emily Pothast, who are the captains and have been running cross country for several years. They will mentor senior newcomers Sarah Evans and Morgan Aubel.
“I am also excited that we currently have eight middle school runners,” adds the coach. “The past couple of years we have only had one or two middle school runners. They have had great workouts so far and have shown positive attitudes.”