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Boys cross country regains championship form

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It may only be September, but the boys cross country team is already looking ahead towards November 4, their chance to win the state championship for the first time in the past three years. The boys have come up short of winning a state title the past three years, placing third in 2014 and 2015 and 2nd in 2016. For most teams, this would be tremendous, but the Westminster boys cross country team, led by head coach Joe Tribble and assistant coaches Jason Vuckovic and Ricky Dimon, is not most teams. Having won 23 state championships since Tribble started coaching in 1984, Tribble trains the team to win a state title every year. Having fallen short of a state title the past three years has only made the boys cross country team even more hungry to win this year, and they’re preparing to take back the state title this year on November 4.

The 2017 boys cross country team has started out their season strong, placing 1st in the Kosh Klassic against 10 other teams, including Blessed Trinity, in their first meet of the year. The varsity boys average time at Kosh this year was 18:09, 45 seconds faster than last year’s average time of 18:54. At their second meet of the year, the Berry College Invitational, the boys placed 11th against 39 schools from all divisions, not just AAA.

In their third meet of the year, the Carrollton Orthopedic Invitational, the boys placed second against 19 other schools from all divisions, with an average time of 17:40.

“It has been a while since we averaged 17:40 at Carrollton,” said head coach Joe Tribble, “so I would say at present the team looks as strong as some of our better teams.”

In their fourth meet of the year, the boys beat Woodward at home, and four of the top five runners set season personal records. Milesplit, a cross-country and track website devoted to tracking high school and college races and results across the U.S., has Westminster ranked as the number one AAA team in Georgia.

The team’s success is largely due to the head coach, Joe Tribble. Tribble has been coaching the boys cross-country team since 1984 and has led them to win 23 state championships. Tribble is known to push the team to their limits on the trail.

“[Tribble] keeps us in check. He always keeps us focused on training and running our best,” said sophomore Johnny Fang.

Tribble expects everyone on his team to run their hardest in every race and workout.

“You can train your guts out, but if you are unwilling to push beyond the pain in any race and run even faster when you are tired, or better, when you think you are tired, then you will not win, you will not even be a good cross-country runner,” said Tribble.

Tribble has brought the mantra of “victory” to the team. He inspires the boys to obtain “victory” in not only every race but every practice, and hopefully, come Nov. 4, the “absolute victory” of winning the state championship.

Another way the team remains disciplined is through their captains. At the end of each cross-country season, the team votes on which juniors should be captains for the next year. Jack Powers, the team’s top runner, was a captain in the 2016 season.

“[Jack Powers] was an excellent captain who led and trained the team he would leave behind, the team we have now and had last year, both in practice and races, and most importantly everything in between,” said Tribble, “My prayer is that the captains now and in all the years to come would remember and emulate his excellent example.”

Even though the team lost their top runner and beloved captain last year, they are not any less prepared to win a state title this year.

“[Jack Powers] left a good legacy. He left everyone else hungrier than ever to win a state title,” said junior Will Wallace.

For the seniors, the 2017 season is their last chance to win a state title. “We really have a chance to be favorite to win state for the first time since I’ve been on the team,” said senior Mason Arbery, a team captain “We can show everyone that Westminster cross-country is back in force.”

The season has been looking good for the team with them beating every AAA team that they’ve raced so far. But this doesn’t mean that the boys face no competition.

“Right now, it looks like North Hall and Dawson County will be good teams. But I’m confident, and I think that come November, we’ll be ready for them,” said Wallace, the team’s top runner.

As a junior, Will Wallace is the leading runner for the team, with a personal best of 16:25 in the Berry College Invitational this year, in which he placed sixth in the varsity race of over 350 runners. Wallace is followed by sophomore Zachery Roe, and junior Peter Huff.

“None of our top three runners, Will Wallace, Zachery Roe, and Peter Huff are seniors,” said sophomore Johnny Fang, “So, we’ll have a great team, not just this year, but also continuing on into the next few years.”

Currently, only two of the team’s top seven runners are seniors, which means that the boys will have five of their top seven runners returning next year. With the young talent that this year’s team has, it seems like this year could be the start of a state-winning streak over the next few years.

“This year’s team is honestly more talented than we’ve had in a while,” said Wallace.

Throughout the season, the team keeps their eyes on one day, November 4 the day of the state championship, where they look to bring home a state championship. And it is starting to look like this year could be the year for Westminster to regain their standing as the number one AAA team in the state.

Senior captains Sam Blau and Mason Arbery finished third and fourth at Wingfoot Classic.

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Boys cross country regains championship form