The gradual growth and success of Minooka’s girls cross country program can be documented by what its teams have done at recent state meets.
Minooka went from 24th in the 2008 Class 3A race to 23rd in ’09 and ’10. The Indians climbed another notch in 2011, then to 19th last season.
With six runners back from the 2012 team and a few other key individuals, this could be Minooka’s best year yet.
“It definitely has the potential to be,’’ coach Kevin Gummerson said.
Having been Minooka’s coach since 1999, Gummerson has seen plenty of distance runners come and go at the school. He’s impressed with what this group of seniors has accomplished the past few years.
“We have a tremendous senior class, a group of kids who’ve been in a ton of big meets together,’’ he said. “They’ve had their ups and downs, but they really, really are excited about this year. They’ve done everything to prepare themselves for it.
“Then we’ve got a good group of incoming freshmen. Combine those two factors, we’re definitely looking forward to a good season.’’
The returnees from the state meet squad are seniors Moira McAsey, Haley McNamara, Kaitlyn Chetney, Caleigh Beverly and Haley Renison and sophomore Morgan Crouch, who was 68th as a freshman.
Promising freshmen Ashley Tutt and Mackenzie Callahan and junior Gaby Gall also could be among the top seven for the Indians, the defending Southwest Prairie Conference champions.
“I know we’re going to do a lot better than we did last year,’’ Beverly said. “Our goal is to be top 15 at least, maybe top 10. Being a senior, it’s my last year, so I want to go out with a bang.’’
“She was one of our top kids last year throughout the season,’’ Gummerson said of Beverly. “She just had a tremendous summer.’’
Beverly said she has learned how to push herself as a runner at Minooka.
“I came in as a freshman and I didn’t really understand how serious of a sport it was,’’ she said. “On all my runs now, when I want to stop running I think ‘No, I’ve got to keep going,’ more pushing yourself and making yourself better.’’
McAsey’s brother, Joe, part of a state track champion relay team a few years ago before moving on to Illinois, has had a positive influence on Moira.
“He encourages me and he gives me so much to work up to,’’ she said. “Just going to his meets opens up my eyes.’’
McAsey believes besides the improvement of the program in meet results, the team has developed a stronger mind-set from year to year.
“It’s different mentally,’’ McAsey said. “We’ve realized how much we actually can do.’’