Mercer Island sprints back onto the course | Cross country preview

Mercer Island cross country captains: Kendall Fagan, Lindsay Benster, Joey Chiang, Alex Mesher, Laura Brindley and Mikayla Davis. - Contributed photo
Mercer Island cross country captains: Kendall Fagan, Lindsay Benster, Joey Chiang, Alex Mesher, Laura Brindley and Mikayla Davis.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Driving around the high school this fall, passersby may see packs of students running the streets. Those students, members of the 140-strong cross country team, take full advantage of Island sidewalks and parks during the fall, hoping the practice will lead to strong season results.

“We have all of our girls returning. The varsity squad is all returning girls. The varsity boys have one returning. We graduated six seniors from the varsity team. So we have really a young team on the boys side,” said returning co-head coach Tony Scaringi. He, along with Erica Hill, will help direct the teams this fall.

For the boys team, the younger members are a definite plus.

“The freshman, they are really engaged and involved, more so than I’ve seen in the past,” said senior boys captain Alex Mesher. “We have a great future for the teams.”

In the first several weeks, Scaringi said they have been focused on running technique and simply helping kids find their place on the team, because there are so many.

“We’ve been working a lot on good pack running,” said girls captain Lindsay Benster.

“It’s going to be a very good season,” agreed Mikayla Davis, another of the girls’ captains.

With all the girls returning from last year’s varsity team, which finished 12th overall at state, the team is also focused on getting back to that level, and beyond.

“Our girls team of course has experience,” said the coach. “They went to state last year and they have that under their belts. I think for our girls, both teams want to make it to state, but our girls they are looking for a top finish in state, like in the top seven. “

The captains easily agree with that goal.

“Our goal is to make state and improve our times as individuals and as a team,” said Benster.

The boys hope they can do the same, with a younger group, Scaringi said first its seeing how they measure up.

“For our guys they just want to see where they stack up against the competition. The ultimate goal would be to make it to state. Our guys, I think they are hungry. We have a great group of young guys who want to work hard and see what happens,” said the coach.

The teams will run the first of two home meets Wednesday, Sept. 14, at Luther Burbank Park against Interlake and Lake Washington.

“We have a revised course this year at Luther Burbank, so hopefully we can get some solid fan support,” said Mesher. The meet begins at 4 p.m.

The teams were also excited about the recently completed Tahoma Relay event, which requires racers to run 100 yards in water, and the Tomahawk Twilight Invitational, which runs through a Mill Creek golf course under the lights in the evening. The invitational will take place on Oct. 1, while the Bellevue Invitational will be run on Sept. 24 at Lake Sammamish State Park.


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