The Oakdale High Cross Country program kicked their season into gear with the Red-Gold Fox Trot intrasquad race around the Oakdale High campus Aug. 28 for both the boys and the girls squads.
The team will look to make another impressive run at the Valley Oak League title under the guidance of track and field coach Guy Fowler in his first season at the helm for the program.
Fowler will be working with a close-knit group that has all the aspirations of completing the season as the league’s top draw.
“The atmosphere around here is one of excitement,” Fowler said of his team’s attitude. “The team is getting to know each other athletically and personally, which is leading to more team cohesiveness. My understanding is that we had about 20 kids out for the team last year, as of today (Monday) we’re at 42.
“It’s like one big family.”
The team opened the season with a nice 2000-meter jog finished first by returning standout Brendt Ohe in 9:28 in the boys division and first in the girls division by Liz Erwin in just over 12 minutes.
Ohe was followed through the tape by Gavin Smith (9:47), Bryan Berst (9:55) and Joshua Salas (9:59), while Erwin was followed by Haily Macedo (12:03), Alissa Kummer (12:06), Ariana Barajas (12:39) and Dulce Rodriguez (12:39).
Fowler is poised to put together a solid encore to last year’s successful season, taking on challenges from tough East Union and Weston Ranch programs, yet the first year coach will need a lot of pieces to fall together to snatch his ultimate goal.
“My goal is always the same,” Fowler said. “To win league. We have some members on our team that I feel could qualify for the State Meet Championships in November. That is something that I do not know if Oakdale has ever qualified for.”
The unit will have ample time to prepare with Fowler with the first VOL meet not scheduled until Oct. 1, yet his positive attitude and chemistry with the kids is already making strides.
“I think the team is responding well,” Fowler said. “They have a lot more communication from me about what is going on and where we are going. The one nice thing for them is that I am on campus, so if something comes up they can find me.”
The squad will make their debut in competition Sept. 12 during the Sierra Invitational at Legion Park in Modesto.