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by Clellie Allen
WAKE FOREST — Wake Forest Cross Country coach Patrick Marshall has been coaching track at the high school in some form for eight years. And this year, he really likes what he sees with his cross country program — particularly with the numbers.
“We’ve got a good crew,” said Marshall. “This is the most kids I’ve ever had come out: Twenty-eight boys and 19 girls, with 14 freshmen. Usually, we have five or six freshmen, so this is awesome.”
The triangle area is rife with runners, and the competition at the high school level can be brutal.
“This conference (4A, Cap 8) is ridiculously tough. We are a good solid team,” Marshall said. “If we run out of the conference, we dominate. But we have a lot of elite runners in this area, so that makes the conference hard.”
For his boys team, Marshall is looking to Kevin Ulrich, a senior, and Bailey Autry, a sophomore, to lead the way.
On the girls side, he has a few more to turn to: Megan Lanzon, a junior, Grace Yoakum, a senior, are solidly in the top spots and then Rebecca Yoakum, Sam Gibbons, Alexa Williams and Hannah Davis are all competing for the next openings.
“We also have freshman Sarah Weber — it will be interesting to see how they all fall in,” he said.
The team spent significant portions of the summer working on endurance and speed as well as strength training.
“Cross country is a very mental sport. You have to train year-round. you can’t show up in August, decide you want to run and expect to be a competitor,” Marshall said.
What will make the difference, is who wants the wins more.
“You have to have a culture of, ‘I want to be that next guy or gal,’” Marshall said.