GREENVILLE — Greenville first-year boys cross country coach Eric Nichols knew he had a difficult task ahead of him when he took the job.
The Yellow Jackets were going to have to have fantastic times in order to compete with the rest of a tough O-K Bronze Conference.
As it was, Greenville finished sixth out of seven teams in the Bronze.
“Though disappointed in our league place, it is what it is,” Nichols said. “The O-K Bronze Conference was a big step up in competition versus the past few seasons of being in the O-K White. The O-K Bronze featured ‘Mr. Cross Country’ (Cedar Springs’ Connor Mora) and numerous top 30 runners at the State Meet level in both Division 1 and 2.”
Even so, Nichols noted there were a number of good points to the season.
“We ran as well as we could have,” he said. “Most boys continued to drop their times as the season unfolded and set numerous seasonal PRs (personal records). The best thing about the season was all 11 set career PR at some point during the season.”
Nichols noted the seniors were the runners who stepped up big this season.
“Scott Scripter was our most valuable runner and he really improved his times by simply working harder than he ever had before,” Nichols said.
“Kyle Reamer, also a senior, was our No. 2 runner and very consistent while doubling up with soccer.
“Tyler Tester and Jacob Crittenden were first time runners who showed improvement all season long.
The thing that made those runners stand out was their work ethic, Nichols said.
“What I liked most about these seniors was that they never complained during the season, they simply got out and worked to get better,” he said. “I think that will be the legacy this group leaves with our younger runners.”
Nichols is looking forward to next season with his returning runners.
“We have a nice core of returning juniors,” he said. “Team captain Jared Downing, Kenny Wood, Chris Jacobsen, Ryan Loiselle, Griffen Lampman and Jered Milner will give us some good leadership. We will look to tap into their true potential by getting in more base miles in the off season which should really help in getting their times even lower and stay injury free.”
However, there is cause for concern.
“Our lower-grade numbers are alarmingly low right now,” Nichols said. “Two years ago, not one freshmen runner competed and this year we had just one in Gabe Tower. Gabe has shown some good growth this season and we hope he will continue to get stronger. We need more boys to get involved and continue to push our ‘pack mentality running’ to compete with the best of the O-K Bronze.”