Although the Castleton men’s cross-country team didn’t exactly come out with a bang in early season meets, senior captain Matt Woodward is staying very optimistic and said the young team is improving with each meet and practice.
“We know we can do better. We’re all running really well, but we want to be a lot better and win the NAC championship,” he said.
Woodward said one main component the team will be working on in practice is improving on hills, distance and speed.
With such a young roster, consisting of three freshmen, four sophomores, two juniors and one senior, head coach John Klein said he has a lot of great guys to work with.
“We have four guys who have never ran an 8k before and for them to be doing this well is pretty terrific,” Klein said.
He said even though they may have one of the youngest teams in the conference, they are a lot further ahead than he predicted they would be this early in the game.
The team graduated four key runners including Isaac French, Steve Hagemann, Nick Tubolino and Zachary Smith, but junior Ben Girard and freshman Grandon Smith have really stepped up to fill those shoes.
“These guys are really starting to work together and they are learning each other’s style and beginning to get closer to each other at the end of the race,” Klein said.
In their most recent race at the Mountaineer Invitational in Bennington this past weekend, the men earned a second place finish out of eight teams.
Top runner for the Spartans was Smith, who took third place with a time of 17:55. The other top-5 finisher, falling just four seconds behind was Girard, who came in fifth place with a time of 17:59.
Having only three contests under their belt, the Spartans are already looking ahead.
“It’s hard to tell when depending on freshman, but they are looking really good so far. We are looking to be in the top three again,” Klein said.