MORGANTOWN — When you’ve enjoyed the kind of success that University cross-country coach Ed Frohnapfel has, it might be natural for excellence — the Hawks’ boys’ team captured their third-straight team championship, while the girls once again finished second to rival Morgantown — to become routine, expected, nonchalant.
Not so, according to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association State Boys High School coach of the year.
“While I think we’ve developed a good feeder program at the middle school level,” Frohnapfel said, “and success can breed success, it’s not automatic, not at all. There’s always turnover in high school athletics, and sometimes you have a lot of talent, and sometimes you have less. Our job is to work with each kid and design a program that gives them the best chance to improve. What they do with it is up to them. The kids have to do the work, and they have to stay healthy, and even then, nothing is guaranteed.”
For the boys, state No. 3 Rocco DeVincent and fellow senior and state champion Josh Edwards have graduated, so the race is on to find “the guy” or “guys” who will step up and lead the team at the big races. At the top of list is Ryan Blohm, who finished sixth in the state last year.
“It kind of stinks that Josh and Rocco are gone,” the Hawks’ lone senior said, “because we had so much fun together. But now it’s our turn to make a name for ourselves, to win without them. I know my teammates and I had a great summer training season, and it’s my job to make sure we all continue to train hard every day and stay focused, and build up to the end of the year.”
Last year, Frohnapfel presented a realistic goal for his girls’ team, knowing full well just how stacked and talented eventual state champion Morgantown was.
“I asked them to beat the rest of the state, and to see how close we could get to MHS,” he said. “That’s exactly what we did, and the girls were thrilled with how the season went. This year, it looks like injuries will keep our numbers lower than in recent years. But we won a state title with just eight girls before, so you never know.”
Sophomore Adelyn Tager finished ninth at states last season and is eager to pick up where last year’s Hawks left off.
“We are still pretty young,” she said, “but we’ve trained really well so far, and I feel great about where we are right now. We’ve talked about goals, about getting on the podium this season, and about trying to improve enough to be at MHS’s level. That’s the big goal, and it sure would be nice to get there. What we have to remember is that we can’t reach those big goals unless we focus on each practice and each race. That’s what we can control, and after that, we’ll see where we end up. No matter what, it’s going to be a really fun year.”