A good mixture of veterans and young talent have the hopes high for the Zionsville boys cross country team this fall.
Longtime head coach Gabe Porras said this Eagles team has the potential to be one of the better ones in school history if things go the way they hope.
“They are dreaming big and they have worked really hard this summer,” Porras said. “We will have some good opportunities throughout the year to see pretty much all the top teams in the state. We have goals of finishing higher at the state finals than we have any other year.”
So far, the preparations for the season are going well, Porras said.
Some of the younger runners on the team participated in the Lawrence Central Hokum Karem on Saturday morning and placed third overall.
The duo of Matthew Helton and C.J. Davidson placed fourth with a combined time of 31:57, with Max Essley/Ryan Handy placing 11th in 33:11.
Rounding out the top five groups were: Devin Weber/Andrew Albrecht (13th, 33:24), Sam Miller/Henry Asam (14th, 33:26) and Duncan Mitchie/Skylar Cole (15th, 33:37).
“The guys that raced on Saturday showed pretty good discipline,” Porras said. “They were definitely excited at the beginning of the race, but were able to control that and ran smart. They moved up during the race and showed some good wisdom in their racing, which was good to see. We know there going to be some new athletes we were going to count on this year, so we wanted to give them the chance to compete.”
The Eagles finished seventh at the State Finals last year, and return four of those runners, including their top two finishers in Jesus Garcia and Robby Pratt.
Zionsville has some other key veterans back that have looked good so far in training, Porras said.
“Logan Cole has looked really strong throughout the summer with the mileage he has put in,” Porras said. “Jesus Garcia has had a much better summer this year for us. We are expecting big things from our seniors in Will Pitts, Robby Pratt and Jack Sampson. They have that added responsibility of doing their own work, and setting the tone for the rest of the team. They are doing a good job of that.”
There are some varsity spots up for grabs and Porras said he expects there to be some strong competition for those spots.
“Decatur Dell got a little varsity experience last year, and had a really good track season,” Porras said. “He is improving a lot from there. Matthew Helton, C.J. Davidson and Ryan Handy are some freshmen that have really looked good too. We have a lot of young guys pushing each other.”
The Eagles will host their own invite on Saturday at Northview Christian Church in Carmel.
The event will feature freshmen/sophomore and junior/senior races on both the boys and girls sides.
“It’s all about learning right now,” Porras said. “I want them to try different race strategies and see what works best for how they want to race. It is all about learning about ourselves, while seeing what some of the other schools have to offer.”
Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Zionsville Times Sentinel and Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.