Fall Sports Preview 2019: Boys’ Cross Country
|09/21||Centerville Saturday Nights Invitational|
|09/28||Fairmont Firebird Cross Country Invitational|
|11/02||OHSAA State Championship|
Rahul Parikh | Sports Editor
They’re back, and they’re hungry for more.
The Mason Men’s Cross Country Comets have returned to action, and are poised for yet another successful season. Last year, the Comets concluded their campaign with a 4th straight Greater Miami Conference title and their 8th in the last 9 years.
Coach Tom Rapp’s squad this year figures to be led by Senior Johan Meyer, who is looking to earn his 3rd consecutive spot on the GMC first team, as his current time is good for 2nd in the conference at this early stage of the season.
Meyer said that this year, the cross country team hopes to finish in the top 2 at the state meet, after qualifying last year and earning the 3rd place spot.
“We really want to be top 2 this season,” Meyer said. “Last year our goal was to make the top 3, and even though we did that everybody walked away disappointed because we know we could’ve done better.”
Coach Rapp knows that in order for the Comets to get where they want to this year, the new and younger athletes, such as Sophomore Alex DeRoussel and Freshman Issac Schacleiter, have to step into their varsity roles and make a meaningful impact.
“We’re actually a pretty young team this year,” Rapp said. “So, our newer guys are going to have to learn fairly quickly about the scoring of varsity, which is a different level of pressure. But it also brings about more motivation to those guys and for the team to succeed this year.”
Meyer believes that the biggest advantage the Comets possess, year in and year out, is the environment that surrounds the team and how it impacts their performance.
“You ask anybody who plays on a team, and they’ll tell you the culture is what’s most important and has the biggest effect on the results,” Meyer said. “Team chemistry and culture is the ultimate winner, you train and recover as much as you want but if you don’t work on that you won’t be successful.”
Rapp agrees that culture and leadership is vital to a winning program, but it’ll be easier said than done for the Comets this year after losing key seniors, like Jagger Vetter and Isaiah Kelly.
Rapp said he knows his current upperclassmen will do everything in their power to fill the void and keep the team on the right track.
“When we talk about culture and leadership, we always look out for new guys and the next guy up to step up and lead,” Rapp said. “The older guys also do a great job of building the state of mind into the younger guys, which is always helpful.”
With the team constantly losing players and picking up new ones, coaching is extremely important to maintain success.
Meyer said that Coach Rapp’s dedication to the team and constantly improving the system has put the team in a great position to succeed year after year.
“Coach Rapp took off track season this past year to really dive into making this team better,” Meyer said. “He talked to coaches from Michigan, Colorado, Florida, all around talking about things like training, recovery, sleep, and really anything to make this team better. He really works on the most effective method of training us, we’re so lucky for the dedication of our staff.”
Rapp said improving the team in all aspects of the sports is critical to its success, and not just working on the physical part of cross country.
“We have a system, and I’m lucky to have guys that buy into the system,” Rapp said. “But we’re constantly tweaking and adjusting the system to account for each athlete’s mental makeup and physiology as well.”
Photo by Chronicle Staff.