If there was one constant theme during the 2010 cross country season, it was the dominance of North Hall.
Both the Trojans and Lady Trojans won the Region 8-AAA championship.
The boys had four runners in the top 20 at the state meet, where they placed second, and the girls had two runners in the state’s top 10. Both the The Times Boys and Girls Cross Country Runners of the Year are from North Hall.
And the Trojans have a state champion in Cody Barger.
All in all, the season was one of success for North Hall coach Drew Rogers, who returned to the school this season after a seven year hiatus.
Because of North Hall’s strong showing this season, Rogers is The Times 2010 Cross Country Coach of the Year.
Rogers coached at North Hall from 1996-2003 and returned this season to take over a boys team that was expected to do well and a girls team that wasn’t.
“Our boys were expected to be one of the top teams in the state but our girls were not,” Rogers said. “This year our girls really stepped it up.”
The coach credited the girls’ work ethic for their achievements this season.
Rogers said that while the boys team had “five or six” runners that trained over the summer, the girls team had “a dozen” girls that participated.
“They worked extremely hard,” Rogers said. “Especially Ansley Lawson, Sarah Harper and Kirstin Niedfelt. They really showed a lot of senior leadership.”
Lawson placed 10th at the state meet, while Niedfelt was seventh at the region meet and Harper was 15th. The three will graduate in the spring, leaving large shoes to fill.
One runner who won’t be leaving is The Times Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Victoria Rogers.
The junior, who is the daughter of Drew Rogers, placed fifth at the state meet and added a second-place finish at region.
“She was really big for us this season,” Rogers said. “Victoria just ran hard all season, just like the whole team. She really trained hard to improve and I’ve seen that year-to-year.”
Rogers went on to say that the trio of seniors set an example for the rest of the team to follow.
“Being at practice everyday, working hard, always being together and always working hard together, that kind of rubbed off on everybody else,” Rogers said.
While the boys team may not have had as many runners practice throughout the summer, they certainly worked hard once regular practice started en route to winning region.
Led by senior Barger, the champion of Class AAA and The Times Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, the Trojans managed to dominate for most of the season.
“He was a great runner but he was also a great leader,” Rogers said of Barger. “And that’s why we had four guys finish in the top 20 at the state meet.”
Luis Gonzalez, the runner-up to Barger at the region meet, placed 14th at the state meet, while Brandon Lawson placed 18th.
The biggest pleasant surprise to Rogers was the 19th place showing of senior Reese Walker.
“We expected Luis and Brandon to do well,” Rogers said. “But Reese really ran a good race.
“He’s been 30 seconds to a minute behind Luis and Brandon all season but finished right behind them at state.”
Walker finished one second behind Lawson and 16 seconds behind Gonzalez.
Of those top four, North Hall will lose Barger and Walker to graduation, while retaining five of their top seven finishers from this season.
Rogers believes the Trojans are “probably the favorite” in Region 8-AAA going into 2011 but added that “you never know how things can change over the summer.”
As for the Lady Trojans, Rogers said that he expected the team to “drop off some.”
“Losing three of your top four, you can’t help but drop off a little bit,” Rogers said. “But we had a good (junior varsity) girls team so we should be able to be competitive.”
“West Hall has almost everybody back,” Rogers added.
“They’re gonna be the team to beat but we’re not conceding to them. We’re going to work hard this summer and then we’ll see.”
And returning the area’s best runner from 2010 in Victoria Rogers will certainly help next year.