Weekly Feature

2018-09-12 / Sports

New Sweet Home boys cross-country coach hopes to build lifelong runners

by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter

Eva Basehart hopes to build lifelong competitive runners in her first year as Sweet Home’s boys cross-country coach.

“I am very focused on running form and smashing personal records,” Basehart said. “The team has been very receptive to my philosophy and I am very much looking forward to watching each individual grow and develop.”

Basehart takes over for Brian Lombardo, who was coach for almost a decade.

“There has been a change in coaching staff from last year, and with that, a change in philosophy,” she said. “The team has adapted well and are embracing seeing the sport through a different lens.”

It’s Basehart’s first year as a cross-country coach, but she is a former soccer coach and has been a personal trainer and yoga instructor for a number of years.

She also ran track when she was in high school and is a competitive ultra-runner who has run over 100 marathons, 75 of which have been ultramarathons.

Basehart said the boys team, that finished 3-2 last year, is driven.

“They not only want to personally do well, but they genuinely care about how the team performs,” she said. “They tackle each and every workout with enthusiasm and vigor. They want to run hard, and get stronger and faster.”

The Panthers are led by four captains: seniors Jacob Weissenburg, Ray Sambrotto, Bruce Dickinson and Adam Smith.

Basehart said Weissenburg is the team’s star both on and off the course.

“He is well-respected by his teammates and is a problem solver,” Basehart said. “On the course, he is focused and driven.”

She said Sambrotto is a two-time state qualifier who is able to record the fastest times on the team.

“He is a born leader and always looking to encourage the runner behind him,” Basehart said. “This kid is one to watch.”

Basehart said Dickinson runs with perfect running form that he can maintain with great bursts of speed.

“I look for him at the front of the pack,” Basehart said.

She said Smith runs with his heart and soul.

“At the finish line, it is obvious that he has given all that he’s got,” she said.

Other returning seniors are Dalton Januchowski and Zachary Poydock.

“Dalton is battling injuries and getting stronger every day and Zach is getting stronger and faster with every practice,” Basehart said.

Basehart is also excited about a number of talented runners, including junior Blake Smith, sophomores Joseph Wawrzyniak and Adam Mazur, and freshmen Roman Haen and Quinlan Schultz.

She said Smith has both inner and outward strength, enjoys the challenge and treats every mile like he is racing it, and Wawrzyiak’s strength is in his endurance as he pushes himself fast and far.

She said Mazur is a “born runner” and pushes himself and encourages those around him to push harder; Haen has a spirit that cannot be broken and is the most focused runner on the team; and Schultz has a stride that is long and powerful.

Basehart hopes the team will stand out from other teams in the division because they have the hearts of champions.

“They recognize that running is a physical and mental sport,” Basehart said. “They are strong young men in both regards.”

To have a successful season, Basehart said she needs to continue to develop strategies that improve each individual runner.

“Hills, speed work, tempo, foot work, flexibility, and resistance training are all regular elements of our program.”

As a team, she would like to see each athlete push past personal limits and set at least one personal record.

“I believe as a team, we can help each individual improve,” she said. “For each individual, I hope each runner learns a running strategy that gives him a competitive edge, both in the sport, and in life.”

Sweet Home opened its season on Friday in the Dark in the Dark Invite at Oakfield-Alabama High School.

The following runners were able to complete their portion of the two-mile relay in under 13 minutes: Sambrotto (ninth, 10:20); Smith (12:22); Wawrzyniak (12:38); Dickinson (12:16); Kapuszcak (12:46); Mazur (12:01); and Ean Pokorski (11:48).

Sweet Home competes in the West Seneca Invitational Saturday at Sunshine Park.

Sweet Home girls

The Lady Panthers will be led by senior captain Claire Kearney and junior captain Sarah Mehani.

Some key returning runners are returning sophomore Danuta Kurtyko, a returning sectional qualifier, and junior Jessica Carter, who would have run at sectionals but did not due to an injury.

Joining the squad are new runners, freshmen Shannon Sullivan, Lindsey Aarum, Zoe Tyson and Ashley Girdlestone.

Coach Christine Kasperek said the team is very focused on setting goals and achieving results, including winning the division title and qualifying as many athletes as possible for the state meet.

“They offer each other support when needed, and most importantly they have fun,” she said. “It will be fun to watch them compete and see what they can do during the big meets.”

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