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Stags cross country reach starting gate

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By Ricky Ciapha Dennis for Berkeley Independent

Berkeley’s cross country season is slated to begin Wednesday and Stags runners are hoping for both personal and team success.

Last season, Berkeley boasted two runners, Senior Evan Huslt and Sophomore Kennedy Yonce, to the state championships. This year, BHS Head Coach Melissa Hicks hopes to get a whole team to the top as well.

“Our goal is to get the boys to go back to state as a team,” Hicks said. “The past couple years, we just had one or two boys make it. I would like the whole varsity squad to go.

“It would be nice to have a couple of my girls to go as individuals.”

Individual success will be key to their overall team success, Hicks said.

“We want team success, but we also have individual successes,” Hicks said. “The individuals are what [are] going to help us get to our team goals. Every practice is important. We can’t slack off.”

The six-year cross country coach, who missed much of last season on maternity leave, said she has a full jayvee and varsity girls cross country roster for the first time. She has less boys than last year but will still have both a jayvee and varsity squad.

The squad contains 15 runners total featuring three senior boys and four senior girls. A lot of middle school athletes fill the roster as well.

Hicks has set the bar high for Hulst in his last go-around. Hulst notched a time of 18:40 at the state championships last season. Hicks wants him to break the school record of 17:04 set by current Berkeley Assistant Coach Daniel Grant in glory days.

For Yonce, Hicks wants her to remain focused as the triple-threat will compete in Berkeley swimming and tennis this fall as well. Yonce notched a time of 21:43 at the state competition and also competed in the USA Track and Field Hershey National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships this past summer.

“If we can keep her mentally strong and healthy, I’d like her to get close to that female school record as possible,” Hicks said. “She has the capabilities of doing that because she is so strong. But we still have so many years with her. If she gets close, that would be exciting.”

Madison Mobley has made significant progress since last season, Hicks said. She noted the runner has come “leaps and abounds” from last year’s levels.

“I’m excited to see what she can do.”

Berkeley will open the season Sept. 6 at Old Santee Canal Park against Charleston area charter schools, Hicks said.

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