By Kevin Eickman
By almost any standard, last year was a good one for Milford cross country. The boys’ squads won both the Henlopen Conference and Kent County championships, while the girls’ finished second in both those events. With Henry Phalen and Alexis Groce graduating lat year, it is time for this year’s version of the Buccaneers to gear up for the upcoming season.
Talking with Coach Czar Bloom, he knows that there is work to be done, but like most every other year, he is buoyed by the positive spirit of his team. “We have a bunch of athletes that love to run, and like every year, our goal is to get the best out of each other,” stated Bloom. “Everyone really brings a positive attitude, and they love to bring out the best in each other.”
This year he is once again looking for his captains to step up and provide the leadership for the younger runners. Seniors Andrew Eshelman, Brandon Munce and Jeremy Morgan will lead the way for the boys, while seniors Lydia Cole, Amy Wilson and Taylor Hoey will be captains of the girls’ squad.
While Bloom is happy with the team is shaping up so far, he wishes that he had a few more underclassman on this year’s squad “We have a group of 40 or so runners, while that might be good enough for some programs, we would like to have a larger group,” Bloom said. “The number of freshman has been a bit disappointing, but it’s still early so we are hoping that we have some more come out and become part of the team.”
Bloom’s recipe for success over the years has been a simple one. He takes a sport that many consider grueling and difficult and makes it fun. Along the way he develops young adults with self-confidence and discipline. Any time you watch the Milford Cross Country team compete, there are laughs and smiles all the way around. Each year the goal is simple as always. “We just want to help everyone become better runners, as the season goes on it is great to see how the hard work pays off, as their times continue to improve.”
Milford had a chance to compete this past Saturday in the Lake Forest invitational, held at Killens Pond State Park. The event, which featured more then twenty Division-II schools from around the region, gave Bloom the first chance he had to see this year’s team in competition. “I was very happy with how we performed today, we had some very good times turned in,” stated Bloom. “The kids have been working so hard in practice. It’s great for them to come out to an event like this, and see what it is all about.”
The girls’ team finished 11th, while the boys posted a 12th place showing. Bloom believes that the hard work that the runners have been putting in has already begun to pay dividends. “We had Janin Rodriquez turn in a personal best, while Brandon Munce turned in a career best on the Killens course as well,” said Bloom. “It was great to see those two step up, it is a good indication for the team as the season begins.”