November 25, 2015

Stuart Cross Country Exceeded Expectations, Going 10-0 in Dual Meets, Taking 5th in Prep B


SENIOR LEADER: Stuart Country Day school cross country runner Lindsay Craig displays her form in a race this fall. Senior star Craig placed 20th individually in the state Prep B meet this fall even though she wasn’t at full strength for much of the season. She helped Stuart finish fifth in the team standings at the Prep B meet and post a 10-0 record in dual meets. Craig earned All-Prep B honors all four years of her career.

Len Klepack was cautiously optimistic as his Stuart Country Day cross country team prepared for the fall.

“We felt we had a better team than we have had in the past,” said Stuart head coach Klepack.

“This is one of the few years that we have had numbers that you could build a team.”

The team ended up exceeding expectations, going 10-0 in dual meets and ending the season by taking fifth in the state Prep B championship meet earlier this month.

“We didn’t know it would be as good as it turned out, we had a couple of youngsters who reached a new level,” said Klepack.

“It is the best team Stuart has had in the eight years I have been here. It was exciting for the girls, to go 10-0 is significant and I think it is important for promoting the program and for the girls to have pride in what they did. It was a special year and we feel good acknowledging them. They were fun to work with.”

Junior Casey Nelson’s hard work paid off as she emerged as the team’s top runner, taking third in the Prep B meet.

Casey moved to another level, we are promoting what she did over the summer to bring her to that level,” said Klepack of Craig who earned first-team All-Prep honors after clocking 20:17.30 over the 5-kilometer course at Blair Academy at the Prep B meet.

“She put in good mileage. She stayed healthy and dedicated herself to becoming as good as she could be and that definitely has paid off.”

While senior Lindsay Craig wasn’t at full strength all season, she was a stalwart for the Tartans, taking 20th at the Prep B meet.

“Lindsay is special in that she wasn’t healthy the whole season and yet she hung in there,” said Klepack, noting that Craig earned All-Prep honors all fours years of her Stuart career.

“She has a lot more than she showed this year because of her health problems but that was very good for Lindsay because she set an example for the rest of the girls.”

Two freshmen, Grace Shepperd and Allie Rounds, have the potential to be very good for the Tartans.

“Grace Shepperd loves lacrosse but she came out because her best friend is Allie Rounds,” said Klepack.

“Allie was injured most of the season and she has a very big upside. We would eventually put her in the class of someone like Casey but she had a hip injury so Grace, her good friend, ended up running very well for us.”

Another young performer, sophomore Sonia Mohandas, showed class, emerging as a pleasant surprise for Stuart.

“Sonia is a very good runner; she wasn’t able to put in summer mileage because she had a responsibility in a special dance program that is part of her culture,” noted Klepack, who also got some good work from another sophomore, Allie Burgess.

“She started training, believe it or not, in the beginning of September and each race she improved and became one of our top three or four runners.”

With most of his top runners slated to return, Klepack believes the program can continue to improve going forward.

“We will have a good nucleus, with Casey, Grace, Allie Rounds, Sonia and Allie Burgess so we are looking forward to next year,” said Klepack.

While the future looks bright, Klepack won’t soon forget what was accomplished this year.

“As a coach, you take a lot out of pride in their accomplishments,” said Klepack.

“You feel good for them because you know that they worked hard and you promote the fact that you get out of something what you put into it. If you have a good work ethic and you have an honest desire to prepare in practice, you are going to get good results. It doesn’t always work this way so that is a good feeling and they can build on that. They can also take away something, you have life lessons and there are very good life lessons for these young ladies.”