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BOYS CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW: Team-by-team capsules
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Reigning Forsyth County News Boys' Runner of the Year Jonathan Schwind returns to lead a Lambert that finished 10th in Class AAAAAA last season. - photo by File photo

FORSYTH CENTRAL

Coach: Shannon Hays, fourth season

Key Returners: Max Warner, sr.; Charlie Webb, sr.; Will Hasse, sr.; Cole Gizelbach, sr.

Key Newcomers: Calan Gizelbach, fr.

Outlook: Forsyth Central returns four of the top runners from last season’s team that finished fifth at the state championship, and head coach Shannon Hays is expecting bigger and better things this season. When asked what realistic expectations are, Hays said: “A podium finish at state.” The key will be replacing Austin Campbell, now at Georgia College. Gizelbach’s younger brother, Calan, was one of the top middle school distance runners in the county last year. Both Gizelbach brothers just returned from the Brevard Distance Running Camp in North Carolina.

LAMBERT

Coach: James Tigue, third season

Key Returners: Jonathan Schwind, sr.; Tyler Fox, so.; Christopher Sharp, sr.; Parker Frederick, jr.; Byron Grogan, jr.; Kyle Vargas, sr.; Thomas Schwind, sr.

Key Newcomers: Brandon Burt, so.; Lee Keil, so.

Outlook: After finishing in the top-10 at state last year, Lambert coach James Tigue thinks the sky is the limit for the Longhorns. Tigue said the team is “relatively deep,” with 12 runners competing for the top seven spots on the roster. He also is happy to return last year’s county runner of the year in Jonathan Schwind. “We will also have the luxury of having one of the top runners in the state so hopefully that translates into a very successful season,” Tigue said. He said there is, however, a large gap between the top runner and fifth runner, which will need to be reduced before the state meet. “Hopefully we can keep everyone healthy and have a lot of fun this season.”

NORTH FORSYTH

Coach: Eric Herrick, first season

Key Returners: Anthony Verdirmare, so.

Key Newcomers: Josh Schunk, so.

Outlook: A lot of change is needed at north. No Forsyth runners made all-county first or second team a season ago, and youth will be the name of the game once again. First-year head coach Eric Herrick hopes summer workouts helped improve runners. “We have worked hard all summer and the kids are excited to run,” North assistant coach Heather Moore said.

PINECREST ACADEMY

Coach: Melissa Nevarez, second season

Key Returners: Joel Parker, sr.; Garrett Ruf, sr; Grant Mulac, sr.

Key Newcomers: Garret Witt, sr.

Outlook: Pinecrest’s pool of young talent will rely on a small core of experienced leaders to learn the ropes of cross country competition, starting in their first race next week. “We have a strong group of juniors and seniors this year, which makes the team more united and stronger as a whole,” Nevarez said. “The freshman and sophomores have older runners to look up and be inspired to emulate.” Nevarez said the future is bright with the middle school program restarting last season after a two year absence.

SOUTH FORSYTH

Coach: Van Munn, fourth season

Key Returners: Matt Patterson, jr; Trevor Kane, jr.; Luke Francis, jr.; Nicholas Warner, jr.

Key Newcomers: Jared Atkins, jr.

Outlook: South Forsyth coach Van Munn believes the boy’s team will be very strong this year and next year thanks to a core group of juniors returning in Matt Patterson, Trevor Kane, Luke Francis and Nicholas Warner. Jared Atkins might be the key addition to fill the fifth slot—it’s his first year in cross country after doing well in track last season. Munn still thinks there’s work to be done with depth. “We need to reduce the gap between the top four and the rest of the varsity team,” Munn said.

WEST FORSYTH

Coach: Clayton Tillery, ninth season

Key Returners: John Green, sr.; Matt Bissett, sr.; Jason Patskanick; jr.

Key Newcomers: Nathan Kemnitz, so.; Jeremy Ericson, fr.; Joseph Sexton, fr.; Logan Rouse, fr.

Outlook: West coach Clayton Tillery likes his two senior leaders—John Green and Matt Bissett—who helped the Wolverines to an eighth place finish at state last season. Both were named to the all-county team. Other than that, there’s a drop off, as five seniors from last fall also made up the region champs. Tillery says West has a deep pool of talented but young athletes. “We expect our younger men to be excellent to each other and defend their region championship, as well as challenge for a top-10 spot in state.”