- Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 August 2009 17:46
- Published on Wednesday, 26 August 2009 17:46
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Two-a-days are in full swing, 30 genuinely tough teenagers are involved, and sinewy, sweaty bodies ache just a little bit less with each practice. Football, right? Though Coach Cindy Flickinger runs a tight ship worthy of the gridiron, she’s actually entering her fourth year as the coach of another of W&L’s more successful sports: cross country.
“This is the first year we’ve done two practices, but the kids requested it so we’re doing it,” she said. “Many of them have jobs, so morning and evening practices give them more opportunities to get here and get the work in.”
An all-state high school performer and small college all-American, Flickinger is no stranger to personal running success and this could be a breakout year for her team. Her intensity and optimism are apparent as she surveys her team.
“Four boys who ran at the state meet are back. [Senior] David Ramirez, [juniors] Cale Coryell, Cullen Oliver, and James Cox are all leaders, but we’ve got 15 boys coming out every day working hard. And we’ve got Leah [Coates] as a captain and about 15 girls, too,” Flickinger said.
Leah Coates is back as a senior, and she’s been to state every year and won the district as a sophomore. She’s likely to be in the thick of things at every level in the post-season.
Asked who made great strides, so to speak, in the off-season, Flickinger doesn’t hesitate, but she does whisper so as not to swell their respective golden-tressed and nearly shaved heads: “Cullen and Cale are going to be beast.”
Flickinger’s use of the popular slang term for a particularly successful athlete isn’t the only wily coaching trick she employs. She and her faithful volunteer assistant coaches, Stephanie Lambrecht and Cole Vanover are known to run the 5 mile practice loop from the county line with their young charges. And the word is that all three coaches have been known to reel in their adolescent competition in the back stretch.
Beholden to nothing but the weather and perhaps heavy traffic, practice can involve brutal hill runs, endless series of sprints, or marathon journeys down every back road within five miles of Montross.
“Going to Food Lion and back is 3.5 miles, but we can build in extra distance on that route,” she said.
Preseason practice is where the conditioning base is built for the entire season and everyone knows that August miles lead to November smiles at the state meet.
“We expect to compete well with everyone in the district, region, and state. We’ve got the kids to do some great things this year,” said a satisfied Flilckinger, following a very efficient team stretching session after warm-ups but right before she releases them for yet another county line run.
As the Eagle runners get off to a fast start, it’s easy to imagine that they’re just trying to put themselves a safe distance in front of their coach before she changes her mind and decides to catch them personally.