Just like they do every year, the North Callaway varsity cross country team lost some athletes to graduation from a season ago.
This included Christa Gilman, Josh Craghead, Khobi Kellerman, Ean Rohrbach and Jude Greene.
Fortunately what this squad has coming back from last year is a rich tapestry of athletes that features seniors Daelyn Schmauch, Brianna Douglas and River Nolting, juniors Kaleigh Moore, Julisa Moreno and Makenna Allen and sophomores piper Jeffries, Rachael Jeffries and Lydia Backer. With freshmen Carmen Rau, Brendan Reinhard, Kyle Scott and Carson Safranski, this team also has some new runners who will compliment veterans like juniors Grant Eichman, Noah Scrogum and Joe Crawford.
Sophomore David Baires Nevels is returning for the T-Bird's, as well.
"We have a good group of kids who have been a part of this program, either in HS or JH and HS that just gives us a sense of community. We gained a few new faces and have a lot of old faces," said head coach Chad Craghead. "This program has had a few great years under its belt. Qualifying for state as a team the past three years. My question is… will the girls step up and make things happen to continue their success that they've have had in the past?"
Last year the girls finished second in the Eastern Missouri Conference and were the runners-up at Class 2, District 3, to ended up finishing 13th at the Class 2 state meet. The boys were also second in the EMO and placed fourth at Class 2, District 3.
"The boys experienced their most successful program in my time at NC. Building year by year up to that point. I want them to continue to build on that success," Chad Craghead said. "We lost four key runners to this programs, but still have several of those guys back. My question is will the underclassman of last year step up and fill the shoes of the runners lost and will the new runners be willing to step up and start making an instant impact."
One goal Craghead has been trying to achieve, yet just hasn't figured out the exact formula, is how to take out longtime league champion Bowling Green. Currently the boys have taken the past 15 or 16 EMO titles and the girls have earned the last 11, a mark the T-Bird's are surely gunning for. As for whether or not they'll reach it only time will tell.
"My goal each and every year is for this team to come every day with a cando attitude ready and expecting to get better each and everyday," said Chad Craghead. "If we can have a great showing at Conference, Districts, and State then that makes the season that much better. The back of our t-shirt this year says we do things that others won’t so we can do things that others can’t” That's what I expect from my kids to work harder than any other team and let the rest take care of themselves."