By Kevin Eickman
With Hurricane Sandy playing havoc with the sports schedule, it was obvious that nothing was going to come easy for the Milford high school cross country teams. Following a solid showing at the Henlopen Championships on Saturday November 3rd, in which the the boys finished third and the girls second. The team had a quick turnaround when the Kent County championships where contested just two days later. While it may not have been easy, it sure was rewarding.
On a cool, crisp autumn afternoon, Milford had the honor of hosting the annual competition at the Abbots Mill Nature Center the following Monday. The boys would compete first on this day, and they wasted little time in seizing the moment. In a performance that could only be described as dominating, Milford placed four of their runners in the top five. It is the type of team performance that coach Czar Bloom cherishes “That is the type of team effort that this sport is all about,” commented Bloom. “They worked so well together, it was really an impressive accomplishment.”
The first five competitors to cross the finish line are the positions that are counted for the overall standing. The lowest of the top five competitors for the Bucs was Brandon Munce (11th), who followed Andrew Eshelman (6th), Trevor Maloney (3rd), James Hagen (2nd) and Henry Phalen (1st) across the finish line. Phalen finished off a very impressive double, winning both the Henlopen and Kent County individual championships.
Phalen, who won the Henlopen crown by turning in a personal best of 16:42 at Killens Pond on Saturday was thrilled with both his efforts considering the short turnaround. “It was a little difficult coming back on such short rest, but we all just had to did a little deeper today,” Phalen said. Suffering through physical ailments this season, Phalen has been forced to dig very deep this year. “Henry has had a very tough year, but he has kept battling this season,”stated Coach Bloom. “Our Captains Trevor Maloney and Henry have provided us tremendous leadership this season, they are great.”
The girls team meanwhile put in solid showings as well. They managed to finish second in both the Henlopen and Kent County Championships. It was a performance that Bloom thought was every bit as impressive as the boys showing. “The girls have suffered a large amount of injuries and setbacks this season,” commented Bloom. “They refused to quit, and they have two solid championship performances to show for it.”
Coming off a second place finish in the Henlopen Championships, captain and senior Alexis Groce was thrilled to be running the Kent County Championships on her home course “I was real excited about getting to race for the title here, it’s a great place to run,” she said. Running is exactly what Groce did, turning in her personal best 19:47 and top individual honors. With this personal best Groce also established a new course record. The result was thrilling for her “It was wonderful to set the course record, I have been working so hard this season and for it to pay off like this is fantastic.” said Groce.
With the State Championships scheduled for November 10 at Brandywine State Park, coach Bloom believes his team will represent themselves well “This team has such a fantastic spirit, I know that they will do Milford proud.” he said.