The returning state championship squad takes a big hit to graduation losing Kenny Kneisel, Nelson Russ, and Ian Foley, two of which were in the top 6 at the State Meet last fall. But they still return a lot of firepower up front in Cameron Ponder, Michael Moerk, and Charles Pace. Despite injuries throughout the season between seniors Kenny Kneisel and Nelson Russ they were still able to do what no one has been able to do since 2010 in beating Broughton at the State Championships. Cameron Ponder was the guy who stepped up and made it all happen by finishing 5th at the state meet, and he was only a sophomore! Ponder showed he was the next star for Mt. Tabor throughout the track season running 4:19 and 9:09 truly breaking out from his freshman year form. Ponder will be one of the favorites to win a state title this year in XC and should break out even more than he did last year. He will fill the roll that Kenny Kneisel and Ian Milder have held over the past four years in being Mt. Tabors star runner.
A guy that was really not that far off Ponder last year was rising junior Michael Moerk. Moerk had a strong indoor season running 2:37 and 4:27 for the 1000 and 1600. He ran 1:59 and 4:26 during the outdoor season, but his season ended a week earlier than he would have hoped coming up with an injury the week leading up to the state meet. I'm not sure how major this injury was, but believe he was back training hard for the majority of the summer. Moerk developed a lot as a runner throughout the track season and will be looked at to step up this fall. Charles Pace is another junior who has showed a lot of promise for Tabor thus far. Pace ran 4:31 and 9:47 last track season and is probably someone who is better the longer the distance is. Pace still looks to me like he has a lot of potential the older he gets.
What will define Mt. Tabor is if they can develop a strong #4 and #5 this season. It does seem that every year Tabor pulls someone out of the woodwork that goes from mid 17s to low 16s when they need it. So I have faith Coach Cromwell will be able to do the same this season. Samuel Kirse is a rising senior and only has one true XC season under his belt so far. His freshman and sophomore year he only ran in two meets throughout the season. Kirse ended his 2015 season running 17:33 and ran 4:46 on the track. William Scurry is coming off of a strong freshman season and could be the guy to breakout for Tabor this fall. Scurry ran 4:46 on the track and 17:19 on the XC course. In addition to Kirse and Scurry Tabor has a lot of youth on on their roster in William Turner, Brandon Penn, Jacob Kirse, and Zach Mayer. It might be tough for Tabor to defend their title this season, but if they weren't in contention for it at the end of the season, I'd be shocked.
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