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November 14, 2012

Shrine cross country teams shine on state’s biggest stage

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Shrine runners, from left, Madelyne Luddy, Clare Romano and Grace Nagle are pictured during the regional run. The Knights earned eighth at the state final.

His formula seems simple, yet he tries to maintain it as he approaches every season.

Wright Wilson’s recipe for a good cross country season includes equal parts of success and fun.

In truth, the two likely feed off each other.

At times, as he laughed admitting, it can be difficult balancing both, or preventing one from influencing the other too much.

But in 2012, his method was nearly perfect.

On Nov. 3, the proof was in the pudding.

“I think we achieved what we wanted to on both fronts,” Wilson boasted last week.

Shrine’s boys and girls teams shined at the Division 4 state finals.

The Knights’ boys team parleyed a team regional title to placing 13th at the state final.

“The guys accomplished so much this year,” Wilson said. “We had some issues to overcome as far as figuring who our top-five or top-seven guys were. But as we got down the stretch, everyone seemed to start putting things together real well.”

Shrine scored a 380 as a team, and placing 13th was the best finish for the program since the 1980s, according to Wilson.

“Experience was huge,” Wilson added. This was the third straight regional win for Shrine. “As we got closer to Catholics and regionals and states, the focus these guys had got better and better.”

Ben Kendell paced the Knights, placing sixth overall in a time of 16 minutes, 12.9 seconds. Connor Lockman was 51st in 17:33.3. Matt Arce (52nd, 17:33.7), Mike Guirey (124th, 18:54.4), Scott Proschek (147th, 19:26.4), Kyle Pawloski (161st, 19:54.1) and Jake Miller (165th, 20:03.8) round out the finishers.

And as strong as the guys were, the girls were right there with them.

Shrine’s girls team continued a torrid streak at the regional run, taking the team title for the fifth consecutive season and then placing eighth in the D-4 state final.

“Winning another regional was very important, especially when you get that fifth one,” Wilson said. “It shows it’s more than just a runner or two carrying the load every year. To get five really shows the overall depth and success of the program.”

As for states, where the girls finished with a team score of 253?

“They went in there real focused,” Wilson added. “Nobody had to have a super-human performance, but as a team, they went out and ran like a top-10 group. It was a great day for us.”

Morgan Button led Shrine, placing 17th in 20:01.9. Madelyne Luddy (51st, 21:04.9), Grace Nagle (55th, 21:09.2), Gabby Schmidt (57th, 21:12.4), Clare Romano (73rd, 21:43.4), Lexi Cavanaugh (135th, 23:45.9) and Irene Dooley (143rd, 23:53.8) round out the girls squad.

“This year was so much fun for both teams,” Wilson added. “The success contributed to that, but I really enjoyed working with both these teams.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.