The Mora Mustangs boys and girls cross-country teams advanced to the State Tournament last fall. The boys won the Section 5 A title for the sixth year in a row, and advanced to State for the 13th consecutive year. Senior Cooper Lennox also defended his individual Section title. While the girls team finished fourth overall in Sections, junior Peyton Oslin and sophomore Eva Holmgren both advanced to State. The boys team finished third at State, with Lennox taking second place overall.
Here’s what head coach Chris Goebel had to say about the 2019 season:
What’s different for this season’s team, compared to last season?
A: The boys’ team is going to be relatively inexperienced compared to the last few years. We return only two boys from last season’s top seven. We graduated 14 boys last spring, so we have a lot of holes to fill in our lineup. We have about 35 boys out for cross-country from grades 7-12. The girls’ team returns a lot of varsity experience even after graduating 10 runners. We have nine senior girls this year; they’re great role models and will set an example for our younger runners.
What challenges do you expect the team to face this year?
A: The boys’ team won’t be as deep as we’ve been in the past. The girls’ team returns a lot of experience, but our varsity depth may be an issue. It’ll be very important for our team to stay healthy this year. We need to find that balance of making sure our runners put in the work they need, yet are able to stay healthy.
How does the coaching staff prepare for a new season?
A: We have runners coming in at all abilities and all fitness levels. We have kids who haven’t run all summer, and some who ran a few hundred miles. Our coaches try to do what’s best for each athlete, so all can feel successful in their own way. We’ll make a few adjustments from the training plan from last year. Our focus is to make sure we are peaking at the end of October.
What makes a player a good team captain?
A: The boys’ team has only two seniors, Cooper Lennox and Hunter Honstrom. Cooper was the state runner-up last year, and starts the year ranked third in the state. He’s put in a lot of work this summer at some challenging ski training camps. Hunter also put in a lot of work this summer to prepare for his senior year. Both of these guys are respectful to the younger kids, work hard, and set a great example for their teammates in the classroom and at practice. This makes them great leaders for our team.
Our senior girls have been great at getting to know everyone on our team. They volunteer to lead warm-ups, bring treats and organized a cross-country girls gathering. This type of leadership makes everyone feel like they are important and part of the team.
How do you think participation in athletics affects students beyond the cross-country paths?
A: In cross-country, there’s a lot of down time where runners socialize and talk with teammates. I think being in cross-country has helped a lot of kids grow and become more confident in who they are. It helps them meet new people and gain friends. You can just see the growth in kids socially throughout the fall, and over their years of participating in cross-country.
Cross-country also helps runners build confidence. Workouts and races can be very challenging. They learn a lot about what they’re capable of accomplishing, by pushing themselves even when they might think they can’t do it. It’s fun to see them reach goals that they thought weren’t attainable. We really love to celebrate those successes with our athletes.
Many of our kids are not only leaders in cross-country, but also in academics, student council and other organizations in the high school. These kids are very involved, and work hard in everything they do. Involvement in activities makes these student-athletes well-grounded individuals, and makes it a pleasure to coach this group.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention about the upcoming season?
A: Overall, we have a very young team that has a lot of talent and work ethic. The coaches know we’ll see a lot of improvement throughout the season.