18 August 2012

Girls CC: A year older and faster

(l to r) 2012 varsity runners Maricia Pacheco, Sofia Chadwick, Sarah Cummings, Alexis Johnson, Maricella Pacheco and Maria Kiminski
The 2012 Tiger varsity lineup is going to look very much like that of the 2011 team...and according to coach Heidi Revels, that's a good thing.

Last fall the young Farmington team improved steadily, finishing sixth in the Missota Conference and 14th at the Section 1AA Championships. Six of the seven runners from that team are back in the field and Revels expects that to translate into a better finish in 2012.

"Our top six have been running together for several years and have a strong, positive rapport with each other," she said. "Having a bond like that is very important in training and racing.

"These girls trained more than ever over the summer. Their dedication in putting in so many miles and working on strength training is going to pay off."

Maria Kiminski, a state meet track qualifier in 2010 before being sidelined with a leg injury last spring, is still the only senior on the team. The other five returnees include sophomore all-Missota Conference performer Sofia Chadwick, junior Maricia Pacheco; sophomores Sarah Cummings and Alexis Johnson and freshman Maricella Pacheco.

Maricia Pacheco and Kiminski, tabbed the team's Most Dedicated Runner last fall, each earned all-Missota honorable mention honors last fall. Cummings was the team's Most Improved Runner and Johnson was named Rookie of the Year.

If there is a question mark, it would have to be lack of depth. Only 26 athletes in grades seven through 12 in grades are out for the sport.

"We always struggle with low numbers," Revels said. "There are so many other fall sports to compete with. We're hoping we might get some more girls out once school starts."

The seventh spot in the varsity lineup will likely be filled by another underclassmen. Based on early workouts, freshmen Courtney Kimmel, Hannah Morgan and Breana Sutter as well as seventh grader Lexie Laube seem strong contenders.

With three of the top 20 finishers in the 2011 Missota Conference championships back for another go-around, Revels is looking for a move up in both the conference and section standings.

"Every year these girls have made progress individually," she said. "I strongly believe they will see even more success this season."

Revels said cracking the top three in the Missota will be a tough task with Shakopee, New Prague and Chanhassen all expected to field strong entries. She said perennial powers Lakeville North and Lakeville South figure to be the teams to beat in Section 1AA.

Allison Laube will serve as varsity assistant coach this fall with Connie Berg handling the middle school chores.

The Tigers get their first taste of competition Friday, Aug. 31, when they travel to Eagan for their annual appearance in the Dakota County Championships.