Oakville cross country boys looking to go the distance

Oakville High School head coach Kevin Niedringhaus said his goal this year is for his boys cross country team to qualify for state as a team.

Oakville High School head coach Kevin Niedringhaus said his goal this year is for his boys’ cross country team to qualify for state as a team.

By Robert Chalupny

The Oakville Senior High School varsity boys’ cross country team is looking to go the distance in 2013.

With several returning runners, head coach Kevin Niedringhaus told the Call that his goal is to qualify for state as a team.

“Last year, we got the team through districts. We came in fourth in districts last year and made it to a sectionals, and then we had two go through to state,” he said. “This year, it’s a big goal, but I’d like to get the whole team through to state. But it’s a very tough sectional … Of course, you got to take it one step at a time and you have to get through districts first, but I think it’s doable if we work hard to get the entire boys’ team though to state.”

The number of returning runners will go a long way toward achieving that goal. “We lost a lot, but out of our top seven, there’s only two gone,” Niedringhaus said. “So of that top seven, we’ve got five returners and the two that went to state are back. So that’s a good leadership base right there.”

Rounding out the top three are Elvir Sarailic and Brandon Meyer, both state qualifiers last season, and J.R. Frisella.

Competing for the four through seven slots are Griffin Bailey, Sean Stumpf, Nick Durham, Tony Sax and Devin Jost.

Niedringhaus is pleased with the level of competition among the entire group.

“That is a big plus. Competition is good,” he said. “They are going to have to work hard and I think it will help us in trying to reach our goal of getting the whole team to state.”

The strength of this team is the senior leadership, according to Niedringhaus.

“I think our major strength is Elvir’s leadership and his talent. It gives everybody something to shoot for,” he said. “He’s a hard worker. He ran all summer. He’s in top form right now and it shows those young kids this is a year-round thing.

“I think that Elvir and Brandon both bring that to the table and I think there leadership is the key.”

Beating a rival in district action last year is the result of a lesson learned last season.

“I think they learned the value of the hard work and peaking at the right time,” Niedringhaus said. “We never beat Mehlville before.

“In districts, they came in sixth and we came in fourth and it was because we peaked going into districts and then sectionals.”

Another valuable lesson the core group learned was patience.

“Last year, they were frustrated because we started out slow, but our workouts are designed to be ready for our districts, so they learned that,” Niedringhaus said.