By SCOTT COTTOS
Fostoria High School is seeing opposite ends of the numbers game in its cross country program.
While 10 boys are running this season, only six — just one more than necessary to comprise a full team for a meet — are on the girls roster.
Coach Kim Fant-Cousin will gladly take the turnout on the boys side, but she’s also not going to worry about who’s not on the girls team.
“People look at us as being small in numbers, but I feel as though, if I had 17 girls on the team, yeah, those are numbers, but how many of those girls are going to come out and really have that attitude of ‘I’m going to leave everything I’ve got for this meet; I’m going to put it all into this race’? You may have some who are just there to be part of the team.
“Numbers aren’t always the most important thing. It’s the ones who are there, putting out what they’ve got to give to the team.”
She said she’s been happy with the runners on both the boys and girls squads as they’ve prepared to compete in today’s OHSAA Preseason Invitational at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
“Things have been going very well,” Fant-Cousin said. “The kids are working hard — a nice, dedicated group. We’ve got some new kids who are out for the first time and we’ve got a couple who strayed away and came back.”
Dylan Sheets is a Redmen runner to watch. The senior gained first-team all-Northern Buckeye Conference recognition last season and reached the Division III regional in Tiffin.
Fant-Cousin said her standout is gunning for a berth in the state meet in his final high school season.
“He just seems to have a real different type of mental focus this year, that he wants to go get it,” Fant-Cousin said. “And he knows where his capabilities are. I think probably about a year or two ago, he was kind of afraid to get outside of his comfort zone. And now I think he’s realized that being outside of your comfort zone is what it’s going to take to get to that next level. He’s done a little more running this year in the offseason than he normally has done before.”
Joining Sheets as returning letterwinners on the boys team are junior Justin Jordan and sophomore Dom Jackson. Chance Mason, a transfer from Hopewell-Loudon who competed in track for Fostoria last spring, adds a senior to the group.
Junior Tyler Cobb has returned after a season away from cross country. The teams other juniors are Dashaun Johnson and Savas Malagon.
Rounding out the Redmen are sophomore Wyatt Russell and freshmen Wyatt Cobb and Trevor Nowicki.
Junior Macey Sheets, Dylan’s sister, could be the Lady Red’s lead runner after lettering last season.
“Macey is working really hard right now,” Fant-Cousin said. “Macey is probably going to be my top runner, from what I can see for right now. She’s been shooting for it. And having her brother out in the forefront and this being Dylan’s last year, she really wants to have that same intensity that he has now versus waiting until her senior year to go for it. She realizes, ‘Hey, I’ve seen Dylan do it for the last couple of years to make it to regionals; now it’s my turn to join him.'”
Returning senior letterwinners Alice James and Briana Hickle are team leaders, Fant-Cousin said.
“They definitely have some leadership skills — keeping the girls team together, keeping them focused, keeping them motivated,” Fant-Cousin said. “All of that’s happened.”
Sophomore Dezerea Miranda earned a letter last season, while classmate Hope Nowicki has returned after not running last year. Sophomore Haili O’Neal has moved from volleyball to cross country after a solid freshman season as a sprinter in track.