Falcons looking to build on last year’s cross country success

Central's Thomas Gilmore, left, Gus Wightman, center, and Ivan Alvarado, right, approach the finish line during the Conference 35 cross country meet last year. The Falcons finished second in the Group 2A state meet last year, and return four of their top five runners. Rich Cooley/Daily file

WOODSTOCK – Central’s boys cross country team finished second in the Group 2A state meet last year, so naturally, with a strong nucleus returning, the Falcons have their sights set high this season.

The Falcons return four of their top five from last year’s team – Ivan Alvarado, Thomas Gilmore, Sawyer Lucy-Spiedel and Gus Wightman – but they are aware it will still be a tough task to move up a spot this season. The Falcons finished second to Maggie Walker, who have won three consecutive state titles.

“We got second last year at the state meet and we’re hoping to win the state title this year,” Wightman said. “We know Maggie Walker is really good. They lost some runners, but they had some really good freshman on the team. So we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes when we get there.”

The season starts this week as the Falcons host the Central Invitational at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Central coach Melissa Wright said that all the runners have been working hard to get ready for the season. The Falcons have only 11 runners on the boys team.

“Our numbers are low, lowest they’ve been in a while,” Wright said. “But we have quality kids.”

Central has only two seniors, Alvarado and Jonathan Baker, and Wright said they’ve both done a great job in leading the team.

Alvarado said that he’s trying not to think too much about being a senior.

“It’s my last year and I just want to have fun with it,” Alvarado said.

The only runner in the top five not returning this season is Wyatt Robinson, who graduated in June. However, the Falcons have added Lucy-Spiedel’s brother, Mason.

Last year Mason Lucy-Spiedel played football and then he ran track and had a solid season.

“Mason had a good season in track, and I think he decided about halfway through the track season that he wanted to give cross country a try,” Wright said.

Wright said freshman Chase Rimel has also been strong in the preseason and could have a good year.

One of the keys to Central’s success last season was their depth. Throughout the postseason different runners emerged at the top, and usually the Falcons would be in a pack running closely together.

It also helped that the team got along really well.

“I’ve been running with these guys since seventh, eighth grade,” Gilmore said. “We’re all friends. We all hang out with each other and get along great.”

There’s a long season ahead, but the Falcons are aware that if they stay healthy and run as a team they can duplicate last year’s success and maybe even top it.

“Last year finishing second was awesome, and if we could win it this year it would just be amazing,” Wightman said.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com