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Stags hoping for greater improvement down the stretch

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By By Rickey Ciapha Dennis Jr.  for Berkeley Independent

http://www.berkeleyind.com/sports/stags-hoping-for-greater-improvement-down-the-stretch/article_46470a8a-a527-11e7-ac57-bf3998475d95.html

Berkeley High School Cross Country Coach Melissa Hicks said her team is on the right path. They just need a few adjustments.

Hurricane Irma caused some setbacks early in the season. Hicks said the team is still catching up with practice time and meets.

“I think we’re heading in the right direction,” Hicks said. “We’re a little delayed because of the weather. We don’t have a lot of meets under our belt.”

Berkeley hosted a meet on Wednesday that featured county opponents Cane Bay, Cross, Timberland, Hanahan and other Lowcountry schools. Cane Bay is a region opponenet, but Berkeley is quite far behind the Cobras in regards to talent.

“We have a little bit more work to do if we’re going to compete with Cane Bay,” Hicks said.

The main thing is to improve the times of Berkeley’s fourth through seventh place runners. Hicks said the gap of time is too wide between her top three runners and the latter ones.

“My goal is to get four, five, six and seven to stay together, but move closer to the top three,” Hickcs said. “We have too much of a gap between [the] top three and bottom half of varsity. We have to close that gap. [We] can’t have two minutes between [the] third place and fourth place runner.”

But, all things considered, Berkeley is performing well and getting better. Senior Evan Hulst posted his personal record at Florence on Sept. 23 with a time of 18:25.80. The Berkeley’s boys placed eighth overall and the girls placed ninth.

Kennedy Yonce placed second with a time of 20:47, making it the first time in six years that a Berkeley player placed in a regular season cross country race.

“We don’t normally stay for awards,” Hicks said. “This is the first time in six years that we actually stayed for an awards ceremony.”

Hulst and Yonce represented Berkeley last season at the state championships. Hicks want them to repeat, but also wants to take an entire team to the top.

“I think for the boys it is attainable,” Hicks said.

Berkeley’s next meet is in Darlington on Oct. 7. Hicks expects that players’ times continue to drop.

“I’m excited to see where our times are going to go,” Hicks said. “They’re dropping very quick.”

While the Stags are meeting Hicks’ expectations, a few have been pleasant surprises. Hicks noted first-year-runner Rachel Westburry who notched a time of 32:52 at Florence. Hicks said Westburry, along with a few eighth grade runners have promising futures.

“I have a lot of promising talent with the girls,” Hicks said. “Most of them are eight graders. If they stay with it, it will beery exciting to see where we end up in a year or two.”

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