Expectations are sky high for the Gig Harbor High School cross country team as they return many of their best runners and are ranked second in the nation.
Head coach Mark Wieczorek will return for his third year at the helm, and he said he believes success will come from a consistent work ethic.
“Most of them put in a good summer of training,” Wieczorek said. “The expectations are to just be consistent and have fun and enjoy their training. We talk a lot about being consistent. That’s the best way to get better, especially at this age — consistent running, consistent training. Not taking days off, skipping days, making it a priority.”
Despite the lofty expectations, Wieczorek said the most important thing is that the team has fun.
“Incoming freshmen, parents — one of the things they say about the team, one of the things they’re excited about is how much fun everyone says they have, how much they enjoy the team, the atmosphere and just the culture,” he said. “The culture we have here is one where we work hard, but we have fun doing it.”
The boys will lose Noah Benesch, one of the senior captains last year, but they return their top three runners from each of the past two years, Logan Carroll, Tristan Peloquin and Wolfgang Beck.
Beck, who placed second at the Class 4A state meet last year in 15 minutes, 16 seconds, wants to win it all this year — and not just at the state level.
“We want to win state and win nationals, and we want to go undefeated this season,” Beck said. “We want to win every race. Right now, we’re ranked second in the nation, so it might be a doable goal. We sure think it is.”
The team would have to place in the top two at regionals to advance to nationals. Before they get that far, though, the Tides have to worry about the state meet.
Tristan Peloquin, a junior, said they have one goal in mind:
“Bring back the state title,” he said. “We won it in 2011, but last year we got third. We want that state title back again.”
“Winning state, competing, is always one of the goals,” he said. “While we want to have fun and enjoy ourselves, getting better and competing to the best of our abilities is important, too. As a team, growing individually and setting themselves up to run well in college is very important. Most importantly, I want the kids to grow and develop within themselves as runners.”
Peloquin said he wants to be consistent and keep getting better.
“I just want to run fast and compete,” he said. “I want to place really high at state, and just improve on previous performances and be a competitor every single race.”
Tristan’s twin sister, Brenna, should provide a boost to the girls’ squad as she looks to make an impact after she missed last season with a hip injury. She competed in track and field last spring and qualified for state in the 3,200-meter run.
Peloquin has high expectations for herself and the team.
“I want to place top three at state and hopefully make it to Nike cross nationals,” she said. “As a team, we’d like to place top 10 at state and just run well overall.”
The Tides will open their season on Sept. 14 with the Sundodger Invitational at Lincoln Park in Seattle.