BLOOMINGDALE – Heading into the 2013 track and field season, the Bloomingdale boys distance runners were coming off a disappointing cross country campaign. The Bulls came in seventh place at their regional meet and were six points short of the sixth and final spot at the state meet.
Bloomingdale took out that disappointment on the track when their 4x800 meter relay won the 4A state meet. Three of the four runners from that relay, Andrew LeBlanc, John Bryant and Kevin Heron, are back for the 2013 cross country season. With a gold medal now around their neck, Bloomingdale has become one of the teams to watch this season.
“When you (win), everyone has their eye on you,” said head coach Jennifer Beach.
The Bloomingdale runners, however, said they don’t feel the pressure of having a target on their back. Joined by Kaleb Koutz, Matt LeBlanc, Sam Miller, Bo Denik and Eric Fee on varsity, the Bulls have been putting in 45 to 50 miles a week in hopes of not only making the state meet, but possibly finishing in the top 10.
“I don’t think there is as much a target on our back as the goal we have for ourselves. After winning state (in the 4x800) last year we definitely have high expectations,” said Bryant.
“The fact that last year cross country-wise we didn’t make it to state, there is kind urgency (to make it this year),” said Koutz.
Beach said she has a long term plan for Bloomingdale that should have them peaking around the time of the state series. She is also willing to change the plan if things aren’t going well.
So far so good though for the Bulls. They recently picked up a victory at the Lennard Invitational where they stuck together as a pack and worked as a team. Even though they are friends outside of running, they said it was fun to stay with each other on the course.
“When we were running in the pack we were talking and making sure that we stayed together. If someone tried to pull away we slowed down a little bit and if someone was trying to slack off we told them to pick it up,” Bryant said.
Bloomingdale does have some big races coming up, including the FLRunners Invitational in Titusville, which Beach said will be a good benchmark to see where the team is at in their training, and the Pre-State meet in Tallahassee. If training goes well for Bloomingdale, they will return to Tallahassee in November for the actual state meet.
“Right now we really putting in the training so it will pay off come November,” said Andrew LeBlanc.