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BOYS CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW: Team-by-team capsules
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Forsyth County News

FORSYTH CENTRAL

Head coach: Shannon Hays, fifth season

Last season: First at Region 7-5A meet, second at Class 5A state meet

Key returners: Nico Seaton (Sr.), Calan Gizelbach (So.), Eli Smith (Jr.)

 Key losses: Will Hasse, Wes Bacastow, Cole Gizelbach, Max Warner

Outlook: Last year’s Forsyth Central team was deemed a dream team of sorts, and they proved their self-made projections with a first-place finish at the region meet and a second-place finish at the state championships. Now the Bulldogs will be looking to retool with the departure of the four seniors from last season that were so special, led by region champion Will Hasse. The team has been running in a close pack in practice, with Roy Smith and Cooper Meitz having strong summers. Returner Nico Smith could showcase growth, shown by qualifying for state in the 800-meter in spring, while Eli Smith was recently named the NC State cross country runner of the week.

 

LAMBERT

Head coach: James Tigue, third season

Last season:  First at Region 6-6A meet, fifth at Class 6A state meet

Key returners: Tyler Fox (Jr.), Byron Grogan (Sr.), Brandon Burt (Jr.), Lee Keil (Jr.)

Key losses: Jonathan Schwind, Thomas Schwind, Chris Sharp

Outlook: Losing two Schwinds could be a big blow for Lambert, which is hoping to earn a podium finish the season at state after finishing fifth last year. The defending region champions do return some serious talent, including an FCN all-county first-team member in Tyler Fox and second-teamer Byron Grogan. Fox had a breakout year a season ago, finishing third at region and top-20 at state as an underclassmen. “We have a very strong returning group, but in order to reach our goals we are going to have to have some other kids on the team step up and help us out,” head coach James Tigue said.

 

NORTH FORSYTH

Head coach: Eric Herrick, second season; Matt Aycock, second season

Last season: Ninth at Region 6-6A meet

Key returners: Josh Schunk (So.), Anthony Verdirame (Jr.)

Key losses: Alex Peacock

Outlook: The rebuilding of the North Forsyth program will take a lot of work, but the combination of Eric Herrick and Matt Aycock hope the team’s young returners can help spark the team toward a better finish at region this upcoming year. One issue with North might be the fact that with less participants, football players aren’t showcasing their speed and conditioning at cross country meets. Further, the Raiders don’t have any of their talented distance track runners from the spring with competitive cross country experience. Returner Josh Schunk was the team’s second best runner from a year ago, while junior Anthony Verdirame has also had a strong offseason.

 

PINECREST ACADEMY

Head Coach: Terrance Vinson, first season

Last season: Eighth at Area 2-Private meet

Key returners: Dominic Piron (Sr.), Colby Mangan (So.)

Key losses: Joel Parker

Outlook: Like the girl’s program, Pinecrest is still looking for stability and growth, as well as an elite athlete, in the cross country ranks. Gone is last year’s leading runner for the Paladins in Joe Parker, who finished a team-best 36th in area. Senior Dominic Piron and Colby Mangan were the two other stronger runners in the pack last year, while Patrick Phelan returns from experience at that meet as well. Newcomers will have to step in and battle for spots, replacing a huge group of departing seniors.

 

SOUTH FORSYTH

Head coach: Nick Wansley, first season

Last season: Second at Region 6-6A meet, 18th at Class 6A state meet

Key returners: Matt Patterson (Sr.), Trevor Kane (Sr.), Collin Smith (Sr.)

Key losses: None

Outlook: Considering the team in front of them, South Forsyth should feel more than great about the team’s finish in region last year, but there’s room to move up at state. Newly-appointed head coach Nick Wansley doesn’t have to replace the talents of any runner, so a move up looks more plausible than ever—especially considering the top three runners from 2015 are seniors. Matt Patterson will be looking to break into the top-50 of the field at state if the War Eagles make it. “He comes back stronger than ever and has high hopes of finishing strong at region and state,” Wansley said.

 

WEST FORSYTH

Head coach: Clayton Tillery, 10th season

Last season: Third at Region 6-6A meet, seventh at Class 6A state meet

Key returners: Joseph Sexton (So.), Nathan Kemnitz (Jr.),  Ethan Channel (Sr.), Nick Lyon (Jr.), Jeremy Ericson (So.)

Key losses: John Green, Matt Bissett

Outlook: West Forsyth should hope for a quieter fall than last year, where top-runner John Green had his second-place finish at state erased by a vague ruling for wearing a headband with writing on it. Green, however, deserved more praise for his decorated career that included five individual wins as a senior and a third-place finish at region. West, still, was a strong overall team and thinks it can compete for a top-10 finish at state yet again. Head coach Clayton Tillery likes the fact his group of sophomores and juniors include 10 that broke 5 minutes in the 1,600-meter run during the track season. “We are very encouraged with our young men’s training this season and will count on pack running to make it out of the group of death in our sectional.”