Frazier cross country team small, but mighty
For the Frazier cross country team, doing the most with limited resources has been a strategy that has worked well in recent years, and coach Joe Turek is hopeful that his small but dedicated group of runners can continue to be the leaders in Section 3-AA.
The Frazier roster consists of six boys and three girls. The boys squad is coming off back-to-back section championships, including a perfect 9-0 record in section meets last season.
“To three-peat would be good, but like any team, we just want to do the best we can,” Frazier coach Joe Turek said.
The Commodores have a wealth of experience on the boys side, as all six runners are returners. Cory Krall leads the boys team, and he will be joined by fellow seniors Ryan Maurer, Tanner Murt, Billy Mahalko and Ian Barota. Junior Christian Katic is the lone underclassmen.
“We have good leadership with Cory, and the rest of the kids follow him,” Turek said. “We should be solid.”
Krall is filling a leadership role left vacant by graduate Sawyer Palonder. Palonder, who will be attending St. Vincent, was Frazier's top runner, finishing ninth in the WPIAL Class AA Championships last season.
“Losing Sawyer is a big loss, but the kids are running with confidence,” Turek said.
Krall finished 24th at the WPIAL Class AA Championships in 2011, and like Palonder, also competed in the state meet. Krall is anxious to try to fill the top spot for the Commodores.
“I figure that I'm ready for it,” Krall said. “I had a lot of practice running behind Sawyer. He always pushed me, and it helped a lot. I'll do the best I can with my ability.”
Krall would like to run races under the 18-minute mark, and he'd also like to help the team win that third consecutive section title.
“We have a chance,” Krall said. “Anything can happen.”
With only three female runners, Frazier does not have enough athletes to field a complete girls team. However, Turek is appreciative of the efforts put in by senior Amber Starr as well as sophomores Chelsea Clem and Christina Babyak.
“They are as good as three girls can be,” Turek said. “They work hard.”
For Starr, a personal goal this season is to finish under 28 minutes. Starr, who will attend Chatham University next year, has been with the program since she was a middle school student, and she's looking forward to her final cross country season at Frazier.
“We're a big family, because we are so small,” Starr said.
Turek, who will turn 70 in November, also is looking forward to the upcoming season.
“Their work ethic is good and their practices are good, and that's why I still enjoy it,” Turek said. “It's still fun for me.”
Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-626-3534.