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Eastwood aims for another title (08-15-13) PDF Print E-mail
Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor   
Thursday, 15 August 2013 09:37
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Eastwood’s Maddie Jackson makes her way through the water during the Otsego/Wood County Invitational at Mary Jane Thurston Park last season. (Photo: Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)
LUCKEY - Winning back-to-back Northern Buckeye Conference championships isn't enough for Eastwood's girls cross country team.
Instead, the Eagles are seeking three consecutive titles.
Eastwood returns seven letter winners from last season, including two-time defending individual league champion and senior Maddie Jackson.
The Eagles also return three other All-NBC honorees - sophomore Lexi Clark and junior Meagan Kaminski, who were on the first-team; and senior McKayla Phillips, who was on the second-team.
"Everyone's running well," Kaminski said. "We're in a lot better shape than we have been in the past going into the season because a lot more people have been coming out to run this summer and we've had more people in the weight room."
Last season's NBC championship was determined by points awarded for a team's finish in two regular-season jamborees and in the conference meet. The NBC meet was worth double points. The jamborees, in essence, were another conference meet.
But this season, the NBC title will be decided solely by the results of the conference meet. The jamborees still will be held, but will not count towards the conference title.
"Winning the league the last two seasons has meant more motivation for everyone," Jackson said. "We're more driven and motivated this year than ever before. We know we have a better chance to go farther than we have in the past and we know we need to get after it."
Eastwood also is striving to qualify for state. The Eagles were ninth in their Division II regional last fall, with only the top four qualifying for state.
"State is definitely one of our goals, but we have to take it one step at a time," Jackson said.
The Eagles have a new coach as Stephanie Schneider-Sims takes over for Richard Morgan, who retired after 16 seasons.
Schneider-Sims was Morgan's assistant for 16 seasons and was a volunteer assistant for two seasons before that. She's coached Eastwood's middle school track teams for 18 seasons.
"Coach Morgan had a great program and we did a lot of great things, and we're going to continue to do some of those things, but some things are going to change, too," Schneider-Sims said.
"With any good program, whether it's a new coach or an old coach, you need change some time, but most of the changes will be minor."
Jackson is seeking her third straight individual conference championship after finishing third as a freshman. She's also a returning state qualifier, placing 38th last season.
"She has a great work ethic and she's passionate about what she does; she's very competitive," Schneider-Sims said. "This should be her best year if everything comes together."
Kaminski - hampered by a hamstring injury last season - was fifth in the league. She finished third in 2011.
Clark was fourth in the league last season, while Phillips was 13th.
The top seven finishers in the NBC meet received first-team recognition, finishers 8-14 were second-team and finishers 15-21 were honorable mention.
"The key for us is team camaraderie - they have to work together as a team," Schneider-Sims said. "They have to be on the same page. They have to have the same goals. They have to be willing to work together, not against each other. They can't be worried that if one runner gets passed by another on our team because it's about the team doing the best it can. If that happens and we stay healthy, we can be successful."
 

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