LIBERTY — For the Liberty boys cross country team, conference championships are becoming familiar. The success is starting to show on the state level.
The Blue Jays have collected three consecutive Suburban Red league titles, ultimately leading to an eighth-place finish at the state meet last year. It was the program’s best boys finish since 2013, when the Blue Jays took fourth.
This season, Liberty looks to improve on the top-10 state finish as it returns five of its seven runners from a season ago.
Blue Jays coach Jordan English said his boys team is motivated.
“Certainly,” the second-year head coach said. “Our sectional is extremely tough, but we definitely have guys that want to compete at the state level.”
Liberty is set to replace the likes of consistent contributors in Logan Blys and Daniel Garrison. Senior Ryan Mata, the team’s top runner, returns along with classmates Anthony Savastino, Justin Steffensmeier and Phillip Cleary, junior Brady Maher and sophomore Samuel Cleary. Freshman Myles Thornburg has impressed early on, English said.
English said the depth has created healthy competition.
“Unfortunately and fortunately there’s about 10 guys that have varsity caliber runners that will compete for that 7-spot as we go through the season,” he said. “A philosophy of mine is to build a culture that attracts a lot of kids, and when that starts to be competitive I can see the whole team rise to a whole new level.”
Liberty’s girls lose one varsity runner in Madelynn Hill, who took third at state last season, and gain a talented crop of underclassmen this fall. The Blue Jays, who finished as co-conference champs last year, will boast sophomores Brooke Yeates a state qualifier, and Kamden Ricklefs; along with freshmen Ellie Maynor, Sutton Richardson and Ella Lawrence in the mix to score major points. Taylor Cummings provides the squad senior leadership.
“That freshmen and sophomore class, bigger classes for us, seems to be a mixture of talent and competitiveness that we’re excited about,” English said. “Anytime you have freshmen that jump into it and are confident enough and compete, that’s a lot of fun. It just makes things more competitive, which I think helps our team.”