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Monarchs hoping hard work will pay off at regional

Published on -10/17/2012, 10:41 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

The Thomas More Prep-Marian boys' cross country team has tasted success this season, and now, they want more.

The Monarchs, who have struggled as a team in the recent past, have had four runners crack 19 minutes on 5-kilometer courses this season and have received votes in past coaches' polls.

Much of that success was created this summer when several members of the team decided to train for an 11-mile race in July at Scandia called the Lunar Trek Night Run.

Members of the boys' and girls' teams ran together throughout the summer, and several competed at the Lunar Trek.

"That's what we've been able to build our workouts off of," said TMP coach Matt Dumler. "They have that high mileage base underneath them. We don't have to spend three-quarters of the season getting that mileage built up. We can then focus on the harder workouts."

The Monarchs hope the hard work will benefit them Saturday at the Class 3A regional at Cimarron Golf Course. The girls are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., and the boys are scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m.

Dumler credited his team for changing the team mentality.

"They did a lot of it on their own," Dumler said. "They were just kind of motivated to go and were really excited about it."

The team this season has been led by underclassmen for the most part.

Freshman Andrew Hess has led the team and run a personal-best time of 18:13. Sophomore Tony Staab led the squad at the league meet Thursday, running a personal-best 18:57.

However, senior Nick Dopita and junior Austin Dinkel also have cracked 19 minutes, and sophomore Matt Mindrup has come close.

"The group we have is a pack of four or pack of six, and we push each other getting better," Staab said. "In races, we push each other the whole way until the end."

The Monarchs will face some tough competition at the regional, though. TMP will have to finish in the top three to make it as a team, and their regional includes Holcomb, Norton and Scott City -- all recent 3A powers on the boys' side in cross country.

"We know there are some tough teams there, but we believe we are a part of that group that can get out," Dumler said, but admitted it likely would take his runners' best performances to do it.

TMP's goal all season has been to get five runners under 19 minutes, and if they do that and have their top scorers run strong races, the Monarchs could make it out, Dumler said.

"We have a really good chance," Staab said.

Senior Adam Urban, who has run primarily as his team's sixth runner this season, said he's seen a culture change at TMP in his four years there.

"As we've grown up, we've realized it's almost a lifestyle here working hard and having fun," Urban said.

On the girls' side, TMP senior Heather Ruder, a three-time all-state runner and former state champion, is a favorite to win the regional.

The Monarchs will continue to be without their second runner, senior Allison Pfeifer, who has missed nearly the entire season with health issues. However, Dumler said he thinks his girls have a chance to qualify even without Pfeifer.

"When your No. 1 runner finishes first, it gives you a shot if your other four scorers run well," Dumler said.

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