Clay-Battelle runners getting ready for cross-country season

BLACKSVILLE — 2017 was quite the average year for Clay-Battelle cross-country.

The Cee-Bees weren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. However, with just one top 20 finish at the regional meet (senior Kaden Statler) and no state qualifiers, it was not a year that will leave itself etched in C-B history.

This fall, the Cee-Bees will look to build upon the foundation laid last year.

The Cee-Bees will be led on the boys’ side by top returnees sophomore Chase Ammons and Statler. The duo narrowly missed a shot at the state meet in Ona last fall, and coach Justin Allar thinks things could be different this season.

“Chase and Kaden barely missed states last year, and we hope that we can get them there this year,” he said.

Statler is excited to work with Allar, who returns after a year off from the coaching circuit. He expects good results to come from working with his coach.

“I hope we can end up making it to states. Coach Allar coaches us well and pushes us really hard, and he’s going to be there for us,” he said.

Joining Ammons and Statler are senior Austin Haught and junior Tyler Chisler, who also return from the 2017 squad. Allar expects to see the two take a big step forward this season.

“I just want to see big improvements,” he said. “I expect that this year will be a big step forward for them, and hopefully they drop their times.”

Rounding out the Cee-Bees contingent this year will be a pair of junior newcomers — Mason Sheets and Trevor Butcher.

“I just want to see them learn and grow. It’s going to take awhile for them to get used to the sport,” Allar said. “Once we get a couple weeks in, we’ll see where they are at and build from there.”

Allar expects his squad should make for a solid mix and is excited to see what his team can produce come August.

“It should be an interesting team with these four returners,” he said. “Hopefully, we can get the two new guys into the mix and we’ll see how it goes.”

He hopes that the relationship among the four returnees can lay a foundation for the team to bond, which he believes will help the team excel.

“Some of these kids have been together awhile,” he said. “Hopefully, with the boys’ team, they can push each other and they can make it to states as a team.”

Statler believes that the group should be able to use its experience to produce results this fall, and looks to use his role as a senior leader to help get the squad get in shape to take on the challenge of a brand new season.

“We should be pretty good with the four of us back. We know what’s expected of us, and I hope we can show the newcomers what it takes to get to state,” he said. “Austin and I will be the senior leaders, and we’ll have to show people what’s expected of them.”

Statler is already taking a proactive role and is organizing workouts. He said his personal goal is to drop his 5K time to 17 minutes or under.

“I’m currently trying to get the guys together for runs to prepare for the season and help each other out,” he said.

GIRLS

Last year, you couldn’t quite say Clay-Battelle had a girls’ team.

More accurately, the Cee-Bees had just one senior — Haley Barr. With her graduation, it was hard to say what the future would be for the sport at C-B. Now, Allar is trying to build the program up from scratch.

“Really for the girls, they’re all new. The expectations are that we just want to build up the program,” he said. “We have four girls signed up right now — we still don’t know who is going to show up, so hopefully I can field a full girls’ team as well.”

The squad looks to be led by senior Miranda King, who returns after taking last fall off from running. Allar said he is excited to see the results she produces once she re-adjusts to the sport.

“Miranda King has a ton of potential, and ultimately I’d want to see her make it to states,” he said. “She didn’t run last fall, so we’ll see where she is at coming in, but there is a ton of potential there.”

Joining King are three underclassmen — sophomore Adrianne Saltsmann and freshmen Ashley Chisler and Carolyn Hall.

“We’re young, so just having a chance to build a foundation and watch the girls grow will be fun to watch,” he said.

Allar hopes to leave his mark as a coach on the program, and build something special at C-B.

“I want to lay a foundation of hard work and discipline. We need them showing up and doing the right things, and that will lead to success and more numbers,” he said.

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