Steve Roble begins his fourth season as McClain varsity cross country coach and for the first time has seen his numbers greatly improve from the previous year.
“Our numbers are up this year with 10 varsity runners competing this season, which is a really big positive, especially in this sport,” Roble said.
Five seniors make up a solid nucleus led by Jacob Roeder and Brandon Adams, who are both returning lettermen. Roeder, who is the number one runner on the team, and Adams are both considered by coach Roble to be strong role models and leaders for his youthful squad.
The other three seniors are Jacob Badgley, Ryan Wilkin and Michael Ditmer. Badgley should be a tremendous addition after being a member of a McClain regional finalist relay team last year.
Wilkin and Ditmer have neither competed in cross country before, but Wilkin has been a solid three-year performer on the Tiger Shark swimming team so he should adapt quickly to the vigors of distance running.
Rounding out the team is Grace Savage, Natalie Cunningham, Noah Scott and Kaleb Harper.
“We have great chemistry on this team. We know we’re not going to be the best team in the league, but this group of kids has improved greatly all summer dropping times,” said Roble. “They are probably the best-conditioned team that I’ve had in four seasons and my only real concern to begin this year is our overall lack of experience.”
Roble’s main goal for this youthful team is to get better every week and compete well in the South Central Ohio Leauge, where he thinks a middle of the pack finish is possible. Another goal is to have a couple kids make it to the regionals individually because with so much youth and inexperience it will be virtually impossible to achieve as a team this season.
Hillsboro and Chillicothe are considered the preseason favorites in the league, along with Wilmington and Washington C.H.
McClain has only one home meet. It was held at Mitchell Park in Greenfield on Aug. 25.