The Running Cyclones return the core of their squad which has some scores to settle from last year’s near misses. In order to accomplish that, they will need contributions quickly from the newcomers.
Returning from last year’s second-place conference and third-place regional team is Phil Culbertson (Stagg), Adam Gurke (Reavis) and Rich Gray (Stagg). Adding to that mix are newcomers Ryan Altman (Sandburg), Tom Cira (Brother Rice), Milton Estrada (Eisenhower), Aaron Spengler (Sandburg), and Sergio Villarreal (St. Laurence).
The early signs are pointing in the right direction, according to coach Mark Horstmeyer. “We like what we see so far: the work ethic is really good and the desire is strong. They’re beginning to gel as a team. We have a long way to go, but I’m confident they can get there,” he said.
A lot is expected of Culbertson and Gurke, who was a national qualifier last year. They are providing the experience for the new guys. “We will rely on them for leadership. They have a full season of competing at the college and university level, and they know what we expect of them and what they expect of themselves,” Horstmeyer said. “We also are looking for Rich to have a breakout year if we can keep him healthy. He came on really strong at the end of last season and worked hard over the summer. That kind of dedication will carry him far.”
Altman also will be counted on heavily to contribute, and his coach thinks he is up to the task. “Ryan came into training camp in good shape, so we have been able to build on that. Once he gets a couple of college races in him, he’ll know what he has to do to improve and compete,” Horstmeyer said.
Cira, Estrada, Spengler, and Villarreal all bring high school experience to the team and have progressed in workouts. “Based on what we have seen so far, we expect them to provide a solid core. They show great potential, and we want to help them realize it,” Horstmeyer said.