By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune
---- — Logansport’s boys cross country team has been on a good run of late and coach Chuck Ladow is looking for that to continue this fall.
The Berries have a veteran group back that includes last year’s MVP, Kyle Jordan, who is back for his senior season.
Another runner who would cross the line first at times a year ago as a freshman is back in Jacob Graf.
“They give us a good 1-2 punch,” Ladow said. “We should be solid. If everyone stays healthy we should be as good as we’ve been the last three or four years.”
Alex Calisto, who finished fifth in the state in the 800-meter run in track last spring looks to be the Berries’ No. 3 runner in cross country.
“He’s struggling right now with an arch injury but he should be running three,” Ladow said.
Senior newcomer Orlando Toloza looks to be the fourth runner, according to the Logan coach.
“After that we’ve got a bunch competing for the last three varsity spots,” Ladow said. “Zach Hoover, a junior, and Trevor Benn, a sophomore, are running well. Logan Marshall is a JV runner from last year has worked really hard and is making a hard push for the top seven. Fabian Luna as well.
“We’ve got three freshmen out. Kenny Echols was the No. 1 runner as an eighth grader last year and is running pretty well.”
The goals remain to win sectional and North Central Conference titles. The Berries were close last year at both.
“Western will be tough to beat. We want to get that sectional title back from them,” Ladow said. “We’d like see if we can dethrone Huntington in the NCC.”
The Comets return last year’s Cass County and Midwest Conference champion Seth Cousins for his junior year.
“We have high hopes for him,” Caston coach Mark Smith said. “We’d like to see him get to the semistate this year. His times have been fast and he ran all summer long. He’s fighting an ankle injury right now so we’re easing him in right now and just running every other day to start off. I think he could definitely qualify for semistate and be pushing into the state meet level is what we’re hoping for.”
Smith is expecting Cousins to have a fast start and a faster finish to the season.
“Over the summer he was running high 16s, low 17s. He got a lot of base work in. He won the Fulton Bulldog 5K run. He was way in front and ran a 17:01 backing off toward the end. He’s got a goal of getting to 16:30 by the end of the year,” he said.
After Cousins there’s a drop off time-wise but Smith said juniors Dalton Daily and Andrew Smith have been stepping up in practices of late. Darrin Chew is a talented sophomore that’s also had faster times lately.
Smith added there are two freshmen out that did well on the 3K junior high course last season.
“One played a lot of basketball and the other worked on a farm this summer so they didn’t get a lot of base work in. Hopefully they’ll be able to pick it up,” Smith said.
The Caston coach said it’ll be tough for his team to get out of the Culver Academy Sectional with bigger schools like Culver Academy, Warsaw and Plymouth in the mix. But he thinks his squad could possibly get a top five finish and advance as a team.
He added that Cousins has a better shot at advancing deep into the tournament than last year considering a rule change that the top 10 finishers on non-advancing teams now advance instead of just the top 15 finishers overall.
The Panthers will be led by Dylan Bice, who returns for his senior season.
Bice was the county champion in the mile in track and is also a standout cross country runner.
“I think he’ll definitely go to the semistate this year,” Pioneer coach Wes Carden said. “He had a great track season and ran in the 4:30s in the mile. So he’s in pretty good shape.”
Juniors Jonathan Phillips and Tyler Carden are also back for the Panthers, as are sophomores Jacob Van Horn and Jared Stenser. Freshmen Matt Williams and Cohen Nies will also give the team a boost.
Last year the Panthers finished third at the Midwest Conference meet and only three points separated them, North White and Tri-County at the top. Carden is hoping the addition of Williams helps the Panthers get over the hump at the conference meet this year.
The Kings have Nathaniel Abney and Austin Hoch back for their senior seasons. Sophomores Dartanyan Abney, Lucas Bowman and Brady Bryan also return.
They also expect to get a boost from talented freshmen Nolan Sharpless and Caleb Brown.
“We’re still in the process of building endurance and getting stronger,” Cass coach Don Bonsett said. “We’ll probably take our licks at the beginning of the year but we’ll try to be stronger by the end of the season.”
Beau Wicker is the sports editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.