Change in dynamics will test Mehlville High boys’ cross country team this year

Mehlville boys increasingly becoming more competitive

Change in dynamics will test Mehlville High boys cross country team this year

By Kari Williams

The Mehlville Senior High School boys’ cross country team lost two runners to graduation, along with its coach, causing the dynamics to change.

With the two senior runners — Nick Zewiski and Nathan Quinn — gone, former head coach Dustin Pearce, who moved to Oregon, said some people will have to step into those roles.

“I think it’s going to be interesting because the dynamics will change a little bit,” Pearce said. “Nick was our team captain, and he just had a good head on his shoulders.”

The team has a “solid front three” runners, which Pearce said is led by senior Drew Wolschlaeger.

“(Drew) is probably the second best runner by time, and the leader by work ethic and example,” Pearce said.

The second runner would be junior Nick Bewen, who qualified for state his freshman and sophomore years.

Pearce said he expects Wolschlaeger and Trey Pratt to pick up where Quinn and Zewiski left off.

Pratt is the third runner to look for. Pearce said Pratt had a good season on the track in the spring, making a 4:23 mile.

Seniors Will Gastrich and Kyle Downey also are returning to the team.

When Pearce officially began coaching in 2008, the cross country teams had four girls and 10 boys. Last year’s squads had about 25 athletes for each team. Along with the increase in numbers, the competitiveness has increased as well.

“I would say competitively we’ve gotten a lot better,” Pearce said. “I use the district meet as measuring stick … Every year, (the teams) improved (their) place at the district meet … Over the last four years, our numbers have slowly gone up; our ability to compete at a pretty high level has gone up.”

In 2009, the boys team placed seventh, and the girls came in 10th out of 11 teams.

For the 2010 season, the boys moved up to 6th place, alongside the girls team.

Last season, the boys team ranked third, thus qualifying for sectionals.

Pearce worked with the athletes over the summer and went to camp with them in July. Pearce said 26 students showed up, 14 boys and 12 girls, though the team could pick up more runners from cuts in volleyball and soccer.