Rome High School 2022 Cross Country Preview

Rome High School 2022 Cross Country Preview

ROME, GA— Rome High’s boy’s and girl’s cross-country teams opened the 2022 season on a high note on Saturday, Aug. 12, as the squads turned in some fast times at the Hoya Two Mile Invitational held at Allatoona Creek Park in Acworth, Ga.

On the boy’s side, senior Tucker Wright blazed over the two-mile course in a time of 9:38, grabbing first place overall and breaking the course record. Fellow senior Jonah Campbell clocked a solid 10:03 effort to finish 10th with junior John Glick running a 10:08 to finish 13th. Bo Bushnell, 54th with an 11:04, and Malikhi Glover, 70th with an 11:29, rounded out the top five runners for the Wolves.

On the girl’s side, Corinne Zumbrunn was the top performer for Rome, turning in a 13:05 effort to place 35th. Freshman Addie Cordle ran a 14:10 to place 64th while juniors Lynda Arroyo and Abigale Morton placed 79th and 80th, respectively with a 14:50 and a 14:54. Lizvel Espino rounded out the top five for the Wolves.

“We had some great performances from our boys’ and girls’ teams. The boys had a great race. They didn’t do team scores in this event, but if they had our boys would have finished second,” Rome High cross country Nick Bridges said. “There was a lot of good competition in this race, including a lot of reputable Class 7A schools with good runners. Tucker Wright had a great race, winning it overall and breaking the course record by 16 seconds.”

While Bridges is happy about the early-season progress of the cross-country squads he quickly taps the brakes after praising the runners.

“What they were able to do last weekend was nice, but we have a long way to go before region and state,” he said. “We thought we would do well at this meet, but we’re not near the end of the season, and that’s when we want to be peaking.”

Another quick note about the Hoya Invitational is that it’s only a two-mile course while the rest of the season the teams will be competing on 5K, 3.1 mile, courses. Overall, Bridges says he’s pleased with where the squads are as they get ready to embark on their competitive season. A lot of the early success can be attributed to off-season work.

“A lot of our runners have worked hard over the summer. We have some runners who competed in track and others who play soccer and use cross country condition and stay in shape,” Bridges said. “We are nowhere near

our major training phase yet. We’re still early in the season. We did have a great turnout throughout the summer, and that was encouraging.”

A year after placing 16th at the Class 6A meet, the Rome boys return the entire squad. The girls team lost three runners from last year and are a bit younger.

While Bridges praised the efforts of the top runners, he also mentioned some further down the list.

“Bo Bushnell was a varsity letterman as a freshman last year, and he keeps getting better. John Glick is a junior, but it seems like he has been running forever. We also have some freshmen who are running well, and we’re just throwing them into the fire to get them ready for the competition,” Bridges said.

On the girls’ side, Zumbrunn led the way at the Hoya Invite but the Wolves also have a strong, top-level runner in Emma Lindenmayer, who was held out of Saturday’s race.

“We’ve got some good young runners for the girls, but our numbers are down a bit and right now we’re just working on building depth and building the girls’ side,” Bridges said.

If local running fans want to get a look at this year’s version of the Wolves, they need to mark their calendars for Saturday, Aug. 27 and the return of the Ridge Ferry Invitational at Ridge Ferry Park in Rome. The long-running meet hasn’t been held the past two years due to construction.

The event features a new course mostly on grass and a fundraiser for the program with a community 5K set to start at 6:30 a.m. that morning, giving older runners a chance to test their mettle on the same course the high school and middle school runners will compete on that day.

That’s currently the only Rome race on the Wolves’ calendar although the team does compete in the Wingfoot Classic at Cartersville in late September. The team is planning to compete in several large invitationals and even travel to Alabama to compete in a race against some top-level regional and national competition.

“We sat down as a staff and looked at the schedule. I believe in competition. If you’re going to be the best, you’re going to have to go against the best. We scheduled meets where we can really make ourselves better,” Bridges said. “We’re going to run in the Southern Showcase in Alabama. That’s going to be a huge race with thousands of runners and a great experience for our teams.”

For those unfamiliar with the sport, cross country is scored much like golf. The placing of the team’s top five runners is totaled and the team with the lowest score wins.

“We did well at the meet last week, but we’re not out here chasing times, because every course is different. We’re preaching to the kids to try to get two more. Jonah finished 10th because he was passing people late,” Bridge said. “That’s how we tell our runners to finish. Corinne went out there and caught several at the end, too. We want them to catch two in front of them and then go and catch two more if they can.”

The team aspect built around excelling and getting the best score possible helps, but so does a squad comprised of solid students.

“Part of our job is easy as coaches, because we’ve got a great group of student athletes, who are dedicated in the classroom and bring that drive and desire out when they run,” said Bridges.

When asked what it’s going to take to see the boys and girls possibly challenge for region titles and a top 10 spot at the state meet, Bridges doesn’t hesitate with his response.

“We’re just going to continue to check the boxes, do the training and compete. We have a barometer for where we are right now, but we know this is a long season with a lot of variables,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do, but I think we have a great group of kids willing to do it.”