Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Numbers, Talent Put South in Running

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Numbers, Talent Put South in Running

Article excerpt

The Fort Zumwalt South cross country program just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

"I'm real happy with our numbers," coach Mike O'Brien said. "We have about 60 kids out right now; usually we have right around 40. We don't have as many freshmen and sophomores as I'd like, but we seem to have a good group of runners on the team."

A year ago, the South boys finished second to Francis Howell in the Gateway Athletic Conference meet and went on to finish second in the district and sectional meets. The Bulldogs were 14th at state. "We graduated our three senior leaders, so now we're still in the process of sorting things out this year," O'Brien said. "The three seniors we have back, Brad Talley, Josh Raines and Nick Hobson, aren't real flashy, but they're all good runners and solid performers. I look for those guys to really set the tone for this team." At state last year, Hobson was 121st and Talley was 134th. Raines was injured and didn't run much last season. Other South runners with state experience are junior Wayne Gourley (147th) and sophomore Jase Carter (154th). O'Brien also has high hopes for freshman Eric Stahl, a soccer player who led the Bulldogs at the First Capitol Invitational to open the season last weekend. "He has a lot of natural ability," the coach said. Other promising runners in the program are senior Mike Doyle, junior Mike Kelly and sophomore Ryan Bond. "It looks like our top four or five guys are pretty solid and the competition after that is good, too," O'Brien said. "The conference seems fairly balanced this season and we're confident that we'll be in the mix. We'd like to improve as the season goes on, so that we're in a position to contend in the conference, district and sectional meets and have a chance to get back to state. But so much of that will depend on where the state assigns us. …

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