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HomeSportsCross country coaches reflect on a successful season

Cross country coaches reflect on a successful season

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All public high schools and Hernando Christian Academy in Hernando County had student-athletes participate in cross country for the 2021 season. Invitationals began on August 28 and closed with two schools representing Hernando County in the FHSAA 2A Region 2 on November 5 at Wickham Park in Melbourne, Fla: Hernando High and Nature Coast Tech.

I sent out a series of questions to the Cross Country coaches, and below are their responses.

Starting from the very first invitational, describe how you as a coach maintained your runner’s ambition, health, and well-being?

Weeki Wachee Cross Country Coach Patrick Skipper: The most important part of our season is the summer mileage before the season starts. We need to get better at having our runners put in that work. Once the season starts, if they have that base of miles put in, then we can concentrate on becoming better from meet to meet. We have a routine that we stick with and the runners know what we expect.

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Hernando Cross Country Coach Travis Bruns: Most kids don’t know how to take care of their bodies in the beginning. Every day we talked about drinking and eating habits to stay healthy.

Springstead Cross Country Coach Julia Morgillo: As a first-year coach who had a small team, I shared with them my goals for them (for our boys qualifying for regionals and for our girls, helping everyone physically be capable of running a 5k with a 10 minute mile average). The student-athletes shared with me they liked these goals, and particularly my seniors shared they wanted to work to get their times down to what they were either prior to Covid season or to PR overall. We implemented post-meet check-ins and team yoga twice a week, most often the day before a meet to work on visualization; and also on the days after our most intense workout, so they can voice any aches and soreness that could potentially lead to injuries.

We also did a lot of talking the first few weeks of August about minor injuries, such as shin splints and runner’s knee and how to recognize when they were arising.

Nature Coast Tech Cross Country Coach Conner Schwefringhaus: My athletes and I are all very competitive. If not with others, then with ourselves. So motivation and ambition is stoked on a daily basis. As for health, cross country is one of the most grueling sports on the body, and my runners know that. It all starts with running good, strong, and healthy base mileage. Without that, the body will start breaking down as soon as we up the mileage in practice. Additionally, eating healthy, taking care of injuries proactively, and having open communication help our team maintain their health and well-being throughout the season. Past, present, future, in-season, or out-of-season, my athletes know I will always be there for them.

Taking into consideration all the meets your runners competed in, at any time did you feel you may have underestimated a runner’s capabilities?

Weeki Wachee Cross Country Coach Patrick Skipper: All the time.

Hernando Cross Country Coach Travis Bruns: Most of my runners have little experience with running distance, Remi definitely succeeded my expectations. She’s the only ran distance for three months. Jesse lived up to his expectations this season.

Springstead Cross Country Coach Julia Morgillo: I was really impressed with the improvement of my girl’s team from the FLRunners invitation on 10/1 to the GC8 Conference meet. They really came together as a squad and started pushing each other in practice. Juniors Isabella Barco and Lauren Jacobson worked well together on days that we would do intervals and senior Allison Bennett really pushed herself to improve her form during this time. Sophomore Camilla La Rosa also got a lot stronger and improved her running form at this point in the season and she had a personal best to end the season at District Meet.
Our boy’s team saw great improvement from Sophomore Andrew Danchise and senior Joe Capoocia, who were number 4 & 5 runners. They had some great finishing kicks. Eli Toler had a great season in general because he set realistic goals for himself and he didn’t get discouraged when schoolwork became overwhelming. He was our school’s athlete of the month in September and carried an unweighted GPA of over 3.92.

Nature Coast Tech Cross Country Coach Conner Schwefringhaus: I set the bar high for my athletes, so anytime they raise that bar I am ecstatic. Every athlete has raised the bar for themselves at one race or another at some point this season.

Regardless of what rank any of your runners placed, were there any races that particularly impacted you as a coach?

Weeki Wachee Cross Country Coach Patrick Skipper: Anytime we ran a race there were positives to look at. Really proud of the younger runners.

Hernando Cross Country Coach Travis Bruns: Being very young with no seniors, we are just trying to build up the numbers and work on personal PR’s.

Springstead Cross Country Coach Julia Morgillo: Our showing at FL Runners on October 1st was where I was really starting to see the potential of our team and their own drive. I know our boys were disappointed we did not make it to Regionals but recognize we are in a tough District because of our size. They all saw improvements from the beginning of the season running at Lecanto for a second time.
Lauren Jacobson who was the athlete of the month at Springstead for the month of September also had a great improvement from Lecanto invite to District meet and I was really proud of her because she battled through some runners knees too that started the week of Lecanto invite through the day of our Conference (GC8) meet.

Nature Coast Tech Cross Country Coach Conner Schwefringhaus: This season I learned that the most impactful race isn’t necessarily the best race. Without a doubt, the 2A Region 2 meet was the most impactful race of the season for myself and my runners. Finishing in the top 8 at this meet and advancing to the state championship meet in Tallahassee was our goal all season. We fell short of that goal by just 21 points. This was a lesson for me as a coach, as well as for my athletes. It has forced me to reevaluate my season and look for things to improve on in the future.

Is there anything you would like to focus on next year?

Weeki Wachee Cross Country Coach Patrick Skipper: We need to recruit our hallways better…last year we graduated our biggest class ever and did not replace those runners very well. We need to find those kids that are looking to be part of something that they can be proud of.

Hernando Cross Country Coach Travis Bruns: Next year we are trying to build up our girls team of at least 5 or more runners to have a team score. We also need to be more team-focused.

Springstead Cross Country Coach Julia Morgillo: Next year I plan on focusing on increasing our girl’s numbers. We are only losing one runner and we have had a great deal of interest in Track from the girls at our school. I hope to pull a couple of student-athletes from the track onto our XC Team for next year.
Our boy’s team also will see a number of runners returning and I want to focus on building our stamina for them to all be able to do a 5k in under 21 mins which might include longer runs over the summer of up to 10 miles. 2 runners are already starting to prepare for this by signing up for a half marathon or expressing interest in trying runs that last over 1hr.

Nature Coast Tech Cross Country Coach Conner Schwefringhaus: Building up my returning runners on both the boys and girls side, and tapering our training for the end of the season.

Question to Conner Schwefringhaus: Nature Coast Tech had a strong competitive presence throughout the season, what do you attribute this to?`

Nature Coast Tech Cross Country Coach Conner Schwefringhaus: I credit our presence this season to the fact that we had several veteran runners on the team. This season has been a work in progress of over three years. My runners have a great bond, and constantly push each other to be better.

Question to Travis Bruns: Two runners from Hernando High- Sophomore Jesse Foulks and Freshman Remington Lay competed at the FHSAA 2A Region 2 held in Melbourne, Fla. Share your comments about how these two runners pushed themselves and stayed in the run.

Hernando Cross Country Coach Travis Bruns: Remi and Jesse by far worked the hardest out of any of my runners. They showed up every day and were very coachable. Even being at a freshman and sophomore level, they were my leaders. I am excited to see how they progress next season.

Are any of your cross country runners participating in Track and Field?

Weeki Wachee Cross Country Coach Patrick Skipper: Yes…that is always the expectation.

Hernando Cross Country Coach Travis Bruns: Most of my runners are running track and they will continue to grow as runners with the help of our new track coach Former Olympic sprinter and ex-Hernando High star John Capel.

Nature Coast Tech Cross Country Coach Conner Schwefringhaus: Almost all of my runners participate in track and field.

If so, in what ways does competing in cross country benefit those student-athletes in track and field?

Weeki Wachee Cross Country Coach Patrick Skipper: We would like for them to take a little time off to recover from the season and then continue to build on their base mileage. We want them in shape when the season starts. Then we can continue to get better in each sport. Participating in both is a great way to get better in each sport.

Nature Coast Tech Cross Country Coach Conner Schwefringhaus: As a sole cross country coach, I focus my training specifically to cross country. With that being said, it is probably the best training to prepare for long-distance track. When it comes to running, building up slowly is the way to go. Cross country keeps the fitness up, and more importantly, keeps the body prepared for the high impact that track also has.

In closing, what would you like to share with your runners?

Weeki Wachee Cross Country Coach Patrick Skipper: Keep working hard – the results will be there.

Hernando Cross Country Coach Travis Bruns: Thank you for a positive year with lots of PR’s and personal growth. Next year we will build up our team. Expectations are changing for Hernando Cross Country. All my runners worked hard and they all made a PR this year and I am proud of them.

Nature Coast Tech Cross Country Coach Conner Schwefringhaus: I would like to thank my runners for their hard work and dedication, and allowing me to be their coach. Cross country is just as much a mental sport as it is physical, and they are pushed to the edge for both. Despite any rank, or time, I admire each one of them for constantly wanting to push their limits. To all of my athletes who are graduating, it has truly been a pleasure being your coach. To all of my returning athletes, don’t lose focus – we’ve got work to do!

Tournament Results:

FHSAA 2A Region 2 2021 – 11/05/2021

Wickham Park in Melbourne, FL

-Men’s 5000 Meters Individual Results – 116 Runners

40 Rahman, Kadin SR Nature Coast 18:19.1 

41 Rahman, Adam SR Nature Coast 18:20.2 

44 Faulkingham, Evan JR Nature Coast 18:25.5 

50 Kelczewski, Evan JR Nature Coast 18:36.6 

51 Fahey, Noah JR Nature Coast 18:36.9 

53 Carreiro, Tristan SR Nature Coast 18:40.0 

59 Barrett, Breydan Fres Nature Coast 18:56.3 

97 Foulks, Jesse Soph Hernando 20:24.1 

-Women’s 5000 Meters Individual Results 102 runners

63 Lay, Remington Fres Hernando 23:20.4 

66 Senzig, Ashlyn JR Nature Coast 23:28.0 

96 Vastano, Vanessa JR Nature Coast 26:01.4 

99 Sciortino, Hannah Soph Nature Coast 26:12.6

Hernando-Citrus GC8 Championship – 10/12/2021

Mckethan Lake, Brooksville, Fl 

 -Girls 5000 Meter Run  34 Runners

5 Remington Lay 9 Hernando Hs 22:47.67 

6 Ashlyn Senzig 11 Nature Coast Tech 23:23.17 

7 Vanessa Vastano 11 Nature Coast Tech 23:59.22 

9 Eva Newhall 12 Weeki Wachee Hs 24:38.92 

14 Madison Attilli 11 Weeki Wachee Hs 27:28.39 

16 Isabella Barco 11 Springstead Hs 27:39.98 

17 Lauren Jacobson 11 Springstead Hs 27:48.21 

20 Allison Bennett 12 Springstead Hs 30:11.69 

23 Camilla La Rosa 10 Springstead Hs 30:48.43 

25 Emily Gill 11 Hernando Hs 31:20.89 

26 Megan Watier 10 Brooksville Central 31:35.23 

27 Fiona Lane 9 Springstead Hs 31:46.67 

31 Taylor Estridge 10 Nature Coast Tech 36:06.50 

32 Samantha Grooms 9 Hernando Hs 39:04.89 

33 Kyla Carreiro 11 Nature Coast Tech 39:22.06 

34 Jillian Guiliano 9 Weeki Wachee Hs 39:57.72

-Boys 5000 Meter Run 72 runners

5 Kadin Rahman 12 Nature Coast Tech 17:34.21 

6 Adam Rahman 12 Nature Coast Tech 17:37.25 

7 Evan Kelczewski 11 Nature Coast Tech 17:44.67 

9 Tristan Carreiro 12 Nature Coast Tech 18:19.37 

10 Evan Faulkingham 11 Nature Coast Tech 18:24.04 

11 Noah Fahey 11 Nature Coast Tech 18:29.86 

16 Elijah Toler 11 Springstead Hs 19:05.05 

17 Brayden Barrett 9 Nature Coast Tech 19:15.66 

22 Richard Meyer 12 Weeki Wachee Hs 19:41.72 

24 Corbin Hager 12 Nature Coast Tech 19:52.07 

27 Andrew Brittain 11 Springstead Hs 20:02.23 

28 Brody Bean 12 Brooksville Central 20:07.36 

29 Isaac Rosario 10 Springstead Hs 20:12.29 

30 Jesse Foulks 10 Hernando Hs 20:14.00 

31 Bryce Senzig 9 Nature Coast Tech 20:18.74 

32 Ethan Sbani 12 Springstead Hs 20:31.36

35 Anton Grooms 11 Hernando Hs 21:18.26 

38 Andrew Danchise 10 Springstead Hs 22:05.43 

39 Evan Jablonski 10 Brooksville Central 22:12.21 

40 Joseph Capoocia 12 Springstead Hs 22:22.29 

41 Antonio Mcpherson 10 Springstead Hs 22:35.71 

42 Matthew Romero 12 Nature Coast Tech 22:39.02 

45 Isaiah Garcia 11 Hernando Hs 23:14.17 

47 Logan Sway 10 Hernando Hs 23:44.85

49 Zackery Szewzek 12 Weeki Wachee Hs 23:57.31 

50 Cannon Krienes 10 Hernando Hs 24:19.52 

52 Seth Borges 11 Weeki Wachee Hs 24:59.23 

56 Austin Scott 10 Weeki Wachee Hs 26:08.31 

57 William Jenkins 11 Brooksville Central 26:18.47 

58 Samuel Shiflett 10 Hernando Hs 26:40.06 

65 Lucas Perez 11 Springstead Hs 27:59.84 

66 Maison Mccauley 9 Springstead Hs 28:27.43 

FHSAA 2A District 3 2021 -10/28/2021

Weekiwachee Preserve  

-Girls 5000 Meter Run -76 runners

23 Lay, Remington Fr Hernando 23:09.7 

24 Senzig, Ashlyn Jr Nature Coast 22 23:10 

34 Newhall, Eva Sr Weeki Wachee 24:44.4 

40 Vastano, Vanessa Jr Nature Coast 34 26:16 

41 Attilli, Madison Jr Weeki Wachee 26:21.6 

42 Sciortino, Hannah So Nature Coast 26:26.5

63 Watier, Megan So Central (Brooksville 30:57.4 

66 Guiliano, Jillian Fr Weeki Wachee 33:47.1 

67 Estridge, Taylor So Nature Coast 33:54.5

68 Gill, Emily Jr Hernando 34:26.6  

73 Grooms, Samantha Fr Hernando 38:13.0

74 Carreiro, Kyla Jr  Nature Coast 38:14.8 

-Boys 5000 Meter Run – 100 Runners

8 Rahman, Adam Sr Nature Coast 17:58.9

9 Rahman, Kadin Sr Nature Coast 17:59.1

14 Faulkingham, Evan Jr Nature Coast  18:26.4

16 Carreiro, Tristan Sr Nature Coast 18:32.2 

19 Fahey, Noah Jr Nature Coast 18:38.0 

20 Kelczewski, Evan Jr Nature Coast 18:52.4 

26 Barrett, Breydan Fr Nature Coast  19:14.3 

33 Senzig, Bryce Fr Nature Coast 19:48.1 

34 Foulks, Jesse So Hernando 19:50.7 

35 Hager, Corbin Sr Nature Coast 19:50.9 

53 Meyer, Richard Sr Weeki Wachee 20:47.0 

55 Bean, Brody Sr Central (Brooksville 20:49.9 

67 Szewzek, Zackery Sr Weeki Wachee 21:40.0 

70 Alaimo, Dylan Jr Central (Brooksville 22:05.3 

74 Jablonski, Evan So Central (Brooksville 22:20.7 

77 Romero, Matthew Sr Nature Coast 22:30.8 

80 Grooms, Anton Jr Hernando 22:40.3 

89 Borges, Seth Jr Weeki Wachee 23:52.1 

91 Jenkins, William Jr Central (Brooksville 24:19.0 

92 Scott, Austin So Weeki Wachee 24:46.5 


Alice Mary Herden
Alice Mary Herden
Alice Mary Herden is an award-winning writer and photographer. She is also an Advance Florida Master Naturalist.
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