A successful return to the roster for Noah Trautner should prove to be a big boost for Pine Creek cross country this fall.
There's a lot of guesswork involved right now about what kind of boys team Pine Creek will have this fall.
On the positive side, Pine Creek's freshman and sophomore boys sent a few serious messages about being a team of the future last fall.
On the other hand, Max Oliver has called it a coaching career. And, Noah Trautner--the top performer on Pine Creek's team last fall--missed the entirety of track season.
So, there's profound reason for optimism in the Pine Creek camp, but there's also good reason to take a wait-and-see kind of attitude about the season ahead.
Let's review the facts here.
Five of Pine Creek's returning top seven from last fall were either freshmen or sophomores. The freshmen in that group were Trautner, Jackson Ponce de Leon and Eli McFadden. The sophomores were Drew Kroeker and James Hibbard. Trautner ran sub-17 last fall. All the rest except McFadden ran sub-18 at least once last fall.
That looks very much like a nice roster to inherit this fall.
Track, however, offered up a different story.
We already mentioned that Trautner missed track season. Ponce de Leon didn't run longer than 800 meters, but he did run 2:06.93 for 800 meters in a very abbreviated season. For a freshman, that's an outstanding 800, especially so on March 11.
Pine Creek saw very little action at 3200 meters, though James Hibbard was the leader of what we did see at 10:34. William Hibbard was the lone other Eagle under 12 minutes for 3200 meters.
Derek Ashby, who will be a senior this fall, and presumably a team leader, led the Pine Creek 1600s this past spring at 4:37. Hibbard, Hibbard, and senior-to-be Josh Hawkins were the only others to dip under five minutes.
Drew Kroeker was not part of track season.
Andrew Murphy, who was well out of contention for a regular varsity spot in cross country last fall, ran a best 800 this spring of just over 1:58 and had several sub-2 efforts. You'd at least be inclined to think that bodes well for the fall.
And, so, we're left to wonder. Which Pine Creek team will show up this fall? Will it be the team from last fall that was magic waiting to get out of the bottle? Or will it be the team that struggled--with occasional flashes of brilliance--this spring, never quite getting the engine to hit on all cylinders.