High School Sports

Preview: Blythewood boys cross country

Blythewood’s boy cross country team has high hopes as it prepares for its first season at the Class 4A level. The Bengals return five runners of last season’s starting lineup at the Class 3A state meet, including top two finisher Andrew Gordon.

“We have a lot of big race experience, and I was pleased by the commitment we had during summer workouts when 28 different guys showed up at one point or another,” said Bengals coach Patrick Kelly. “We may not have the headliner kind of runners, but we have very good depth. I’d put our No. 5 guys against any No. 5 runner in the state. We have a chance to make the Top 10 at state, if the guys are willing to pay the price to get there.”

The Bengals hoped to make the Top 10 state cut for the first time in their final season in the 3A ranks last fall, but that dream was dashed when their season-long No. 1 runner was declared ineligible for the state meet. Blythewood finished a disappointing 13th.

Gordon, a junior, is the clear No. 1 man entering the 2008 season after he placed 25th at state a year ago. Seniors Xavier Roach and Vance Washington were also scoring runners at state. Sophomore Caleb George and senior Travis Frazier were on the state team, but did not contribute to the team points total.

“To be successful, we have to run as a solid pack,” said Kelly, who was hired to start the Blythewood in 2005 after a stint as an assistant coach at Dreher. “If we do that, we have a chance to make the Top 10.”

The Bengals’ 2008 debut will be at a 12-team meet hosted by Chapin on Sept. 3.