The Fairfield cross country team officially concluded their season Sunday night with their 2017 banquet and awards presentation.
Coach Jerrod Belzer talked about his 10th season at the helm for the Trojan long distance runners.
What are your thoughts on the 2017 season?
We had some individuals who had some very good seasons, Ashley and Yana, Gannon and Mark all had some pretty good accomplishments, but one of the big things I?ll take away, and I talked to the kids about it tonight, is the boys teams? advancement to the next level in the conference.
How do you bridge any gaps with other teams?
A lot of it just comes down to off-season commitment. If you look at us, Fort Madison and Mt. Pleasant, you?ll find three premiere teams in the conference and then it just comes down to who gets more kids out and how do they compete. The season ends in November and then we officially start again in August so what are you doing in the off-season to make yourself a better runner? There?s a lot of hard work that goes into being a good runner. We have a few kids now that are making that commitment, but if we?re going to be in a position competing for a conference title every year, we have to have a team-wide attitude toward training.
Do you ever grab athletes from other sports and sell them on the workout they get?
I do have those opportunities, which is a good thing about working at the middle school. I really get to know a lot of these kids during fifth through eighth grade and you find those kids that aren?t going to be football players or don?t want to play volleyball and you try to build your numbers up because there is something to say about numbers.
It?s good to find those kids and get them convinced at an early age to at least give cross country a try. The key for me has always been building relationships and investing in these kids. Just showing them that you genuinely care and when they see that you really care about them and respect them, they?ll do a lot for you. That?s how I approach both teaching and coaching because it goes a long ways.
How do you see your next 10 years?
You know I love being here. I love teaching P.E. at the middle school where I?m at. I love coaching where I?m at. I can?t imagine moving on to do anything else. I feel very blessed to have this opportunity to coach these kids, so I?m glad to be here.
Girl?s varsity letters: seniors Nicole Buch and Ella Pollet; juniors Ashley Bloomquist and Malory Jones; sophomores Destiny Gridley and Hailey Pohren-Gevock; and freshmen Claire Epperson and Yana Gaskell.
Boy?s varsity letters: seniors Jackson Brown, Gannon Courtright, Darren Roberts and Connor Ryan; juniors Mark Diers, Dylan Harvey, Shane Morrissey and Dalton Rippey; sophomore Bryan Wilkins; and freshman Alex Forrest.
Runners receiving participation pins: Devon Duke, Carter Spalla, Caleb Heisel, Brecken Courtright, Aidan Daugherty, Blake Holden, Tommy Jones, Toby Oliver and Jake Watson.
All-conference academic team: Nicole Buch, Ella Pollet, Ashley Bloomquist, Malory Jones, Jackson Brown, Gannon Courtright, Connor Ryan, Mark Diers, Shane Morrissey and Dalton Rippey.
Rookies of the Year: Freshmen Alex Forrest and Yana Gaskell
Perfect teammates: Senior Gannon Courtright and junior Ashley Bloomquist
Most improved: Junior Dalton Rippey and freshman Claire Epperson
MVPs: Senior Gannon Courtright; juniors Mark Diers and Ashley Bloomquist.