NSA runners warm up

Published 8:50 pm Thursday, August 4, 2016

By Henry Luzzatto


Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s cross country teams return to the track — and the fields and the woods — on Monday, hoping to improve on their records from last year.

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“In the conference, it’s going to be tough,” said Terry Crigger, who coaches the boys’ cross country team. “We’ve got a lot of teams that are bigger than us.”

Crigger said NSA’s team consistently finishes in the middle of the pack in its conference. He said they are looking to have a similar record this season.

NSA’s top cross-country runners, brothers Gustav and Christian Berner, will lead the team this season, Crigger said.

“They’re very talented, and I know they’ve been working and keeping in shape over the summer,” he said.

Gustav Berner, a senior, ran the team’s fastest 5K last year, with a time of 18:11. His brother, Christian, a junior, had the team’s second-best time, 18:18.

Despite the leadership and abilities of the Berner brothers, Crigger said the graduation of David Foreman will be a negative for the boys’ team moving forward.

But a set of new runners could help even things out, Crigger said. The younger runners will be especially beneficial for the junior varsity teams.

“The girls, especially, have a lot of young, talented runners,” he said.

Karen Norman, who coaches the girls’ cross country team, said her team expects a successful season this year.

“We’ve got a lot of really great young runners,” Norman said. “We’re expecting Top Three in TCIS and hopefully Top Two in states.”

Though the team lost its top runner, senior Chandler Bergeron, who transferred out of NSA, Norman said she has a crop of good runners to choose from.

“We have 22 or 23 girls trying out, which is the most we’ve had in years,” she said.

Norman said she expects big things from the rising eighth graders, including Peyton Harrell, who won every J.V. meet she ran in last season. Harrell’s best time last season was a 19:19 in the 5K, which Norman says she hopes to beat this year.

Harrell said she hopes to break 18 minutes for her time this year. She said she is looking forward to the next season and the added responsibility that comes with her first year on the varsity team.

“It feels pretty great,” she said. “I know I need to keep striving hard, but I have to pace myself so I don’t burn out like other runners.”

Harrell said she plans to focus on developing her pacing and finishing sprints for the next season.

“It’s all about the work we can put in to be the best team we can be,” she said.

Though the season looks bright now, Crigger said the real test comes when the team begins practice on Monday.

“As always, what we’ll do is evaluate and see where they are,” he said. “Not all of them have been running over the summer.”

Crigger said the practices will be held early in the morning to prevent too much exhaustion from the heat. He said the runners will have to get used to the heat before the season starts, though.

“You’ve got to make the heat your friend,” he said. “It takes the life out of you otherwise.”

As the practices begin, players will see if they have the motivation to make it through a tough season, he said. Crigger said this year’s team is motivated, and they have a desire to succeed.

“This is a great group of kids,” he said. “They’re motivated. Nobody goes out there and runs themselves to death unless they’re motivated.”