Youth and growth shape KF team
Published 9:40 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2013
King’s Fork High School cross country coach Marvin Ricks enters his second year leading the team with his wife, Ruchelle, and they have seen progress in the team, but it has been somewhat difficult to measure year-to-year.
“We pretty much have a brand new team,” Marvin Ricks said. “I think we might have two athletes returning from last year. Everybody else, even though they’re seniors, are brand new, never run a day of cross country before in their life.”
The boys’ team has six members, four of which are seniors, while the girls’ team also fields six members with one senior and one junior.
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The team’s last recorded event on MileStat.com was the Southeastern District meet on Oct. 8. The boys placed seventh out of 10 teams, while the girls did not place, lacking the sufficient number of runners on the day.
Given the Virginia High School League’s realignment, it is the conference rankings that matter more now for King’s Fork, and Ricks believes both his boys’ and girls’ teams are around second among the six schools in the Ironclad Conference.
Regarding his team’s Oct. 8 performance, he said, “We’re still improving our times, so that’s the main thing were looking for.”
On the boys’ side, Ricks cited two runners when talking about standouts.
“It’s kind of like a sibling rivalry almost between Brandon Gipson and Darius Allen,” he said. “They’re just going back and forth, each trying to better their time each week.”
On Oct. 8, Gipson produced the Bulldogs’ top time, finishing the 5,000-meter run in 18:47.82, good for 22nd out of 112 runners. Allen was not far behind, turning in a 19:01.73 time, placing 26th.
Ricks said both are first year competitors, but they both happen to be seniors, as well. He said they currently run low 18s and are working for 17s. High 16s could even be possible, but Ricks said, “We’re going to wait and see.”
To be competitive, the coach said high times in the 16s and very low marks in the 17s will probably take boys all the way to the state level. For girls, he said probably low 20s to 21s would be necessary to get past sectionals.
The King’s Fork girls’ team is both new to the sport and young, featuring three freshmen and a sophomore to go with two upperclassmen.
“Our top runner is our returner who happens to be our daughter Courtney,” Ricks said.
Courtney Ricks is a junior who has shaved about two minutes off of her time from last year.
On Oct. 8, she placed 41st out of 103 runners with a time of 24:25.63. Marvin Ricks said she is currently averaging 23 minutes.
“We expect her to get to 22 lows or maybe a little bit better,” he said, adding that it “is great considering she’s not a distance runner.”
Courtney Ricks has distinguished herself more as a sprinter in track and field.
But Marvin Ricks said all of his runners are coming along, and it takes a little while to develop one’s aerobic power.
For the first-year runners, he said, “What we try to do is get them to understand the lifestyle of being a cross country runner,” and set up a three or four year program from there.
The lifestyle involves running in all weather and making it part of your everyday life. This includes adopting the proper diet and logging at least 40-50 miles a week.
While Ricks sees downsides to the realignment since it seems to lower the bar somewhat for his athletes and forces recruiters to go to six different state championship meets, he said it does not affect his or the team’s goals.
“We’re still looking at trying to be the best in the state, which kind of erases the divisions,” he said.