Cougars continuing to move in the right direction
“Let me make sure I don’t forget someone,” Greenfield-Central coach Scott Burton said while referring to his roster.
With around seven surefire contributors on his mind this time last year, the total for 2015 has swelled to 10-plus with the additions of a couple of newcomers.
“Our numbers are starting to balance out at above 10 and the low-teen range, so it’s nice to see numbers come back here after last year,” Burton said. “The depth up top is starting to develop like I hoped it would over the last few years working here. Now, it’s just a matter of continuing to build the program.”
At the tip of the program’s booming growth will be sophomore Sydney Cook, Burton remarked.
As a freshman, Cook hit the ground running, earning all-county honors with a third-place finish in her first try at 21 minutes, 33.40 seconds.
At the New Palestine Sectional, she was 17th, coming in at 22:00.40 against the likes of Warren Central, Franklin Central and Roncalli.
Her efforts along with Brianna Cass, a junior, and Nicole Stephenson, a senior, helped secure a fourth-place team placement for the Cougars and a regional berth.
If the Cougars hope to repeat their achievements from 2014, Cook will serve as the catalyst.
“That’s sort of what we are anticipating right now. She had a very good freshman season and had an outstanding track season, so we’re looking to continue to develop that,” Burton said. “She’s hungry for it. She wants to do well, and she doesn’t want to let her team down.
“She’ll push herself to be in that top spot most of the season.”
Burton says the same for Cass and Stephenson along with his upcoming freshman in Sarah Muckerheide, Brenna Ditto and Ava Hibbard.
The team’s expansive depth and talent could create a team-building competitiveness.
“Our top five to seven could change each meet as our younger runners learn more about the 5K and start to challenge our veteran runners, who are coming up and showing great leadership,” Burton said. “It could be interesting to see how those five, six and seven spots play out throughout the course of the season.”
The Cougars’ upperclassmen will be in the mix as well, especially juniors Rebekah Gottwald, who was 12th at county, and senior Shelby Bowmer, another track runner coming over this fall.
“I’ve seen a competitive fire in this group. They don’t want to fail their teammates, so they push each other,” Burton said. “We only have the two seniors, so we have a lot of youth to develop. Hopefully, we continue to build in the right direction.”