FREDERICKTOWN — With a trio of great runners leading the way, and a log jam of runners that could be fourth or fifth, the Fredericktown High School boys cross country team was everyone’s choice to repeat as state meet qualifier before the season even started.
“We’ve been getting ready all season, in fact all summer. Some have been working their whole careers to get to this,” said Fredericktown coach Denny Stevens. “They’re going to have fun and do the very best they can.”
Isaac Potes, Delaney McGuire and Sean Kennedy all finished in the top 20 in last week’s Division III Regional. They, along with teammates Garrett Gatton, Nick Gaumer, Trey Divelbiss and Jamison Shipley, will line up at Scioto Downs for this Saturday’s 2009 OHSAA Division III State Cross Country Championships.
“(Delaney, Sean and Isaac) have the experience,” said Stevens. “They were there last year and they know what it’s all about. That’s where you want to finish the season as far as cross country goes. To be able to go up and run against the very best runners in the state of Ohio and to run at Scioto Downs is what you shoot for. They set goals for this. That was their intent at the beginning of the season and they are just fulfilling that.”
For seniors McGuire, Divelbiss and Shipley it will be the last time around.
“They are very intent on doing well,” said Stevens. “As the season has progressed, the seniors have stepped it up. In some of our tougher workouts this week, what they did was good stuff and they did very well.”
Fredericktown was simply the team to beat in this area all year. They disappointed nobody and they approached race day with a quiet, intense confidence.
“They love the competition part,” said Stevens. “They don’t back away from that at all. They are looking forward to running in the state meet on Saturday. It’s just like last Saturday, when we were getting ready to run the regionals. They just got that look in their eyes.”
The Freddies, who have a very deep program, were able to weather their biggest storm of the season when they won the Mid-Buckeye Conference meet without front man Potes, who had a painful hamstring. Potes is ready to go and his leg is getting better each day.
“He’s bouncing back,” said Stevens. “He’s really resiliant. When Isaac got his first opportunity to run at the Districts, after two weeks off, he goes out and wins it and he was sore.”
With McGuire, Kennedy and Gatton always ready to charge to the fore, Stevens has very little to worry about.
“In the conference race, Delaney and Sean and, really, the entire team just stepped it up,” said Stevens. “(McGuire and Kennedy) are young men who have just come so far — not just as athletes. They keep getting stronger and stronger. They’re good people, they’re very competitive and that goes back to when they were in junior high.”
Gaumer, a freshman, has stepped into the varsity as a solid fifth man, but he is being pushed by seniors Divelbiss and Shipley.
“In cross country, it’s all seven guys,” said Stevens. “Our fifth, sixth and seventh runners have all run fifth. It’s so much fun to see (Divelbiss and Shipley) finish their cross country careers at Scioto Downs. Trey is going to give it everything he has and so is Jamison. They have been in the program for a number of years and they’ve seen other kids go. This time, it’s their turn and it’s a special time for them. They’re making the most of it and that’s why it so much fun to be around them — they’re competitors.”
These are joyous times in Fredericktown. Along with cross country, the town is abuzz with talk of the undefeated football team and the marching band also competing for a state title.
“Energy just rubs off,” said Stevens. “It’s contaigious. Fredericktown is a fun place to teach and coach. The number of student-athletes we have is around 300. That’s a lot for a school our size. The kids are on task and they’re raising the bar for each other.”
Now, there is one final chapter to write in a great season for the Freddies. This group of young men is ready for the task.
“With their attitude and their work ethic,” said Stevens. “They’ve just been a pleasure to coach. They’re a great group of young men to work with. They’re creating memories. It’s something that not many kids do. We’re looking forward to it.”