PENDLETON — Alan Holden is entering his 31st year as coach for Pendleton Heights cross country. Even with no seniors on this year’s team, he has good reason to keep coaching; a remarkable and talented junior class that returns after winning sectional and regional championships and qualifying for state.
“That’s why I’m still coaching,” Holden said. “I know they were young, and we’ve got some good runners, and I enjoy helping develop them. I see a lot of potential in these juniors that could be all-state. Not only one, but there are two or three who could reach that top 25 if they run to their potential.”
Those juniors include Milan Jones, Luke Upton, Caleb Martin, Jayden Wenning, Seth Leicht and Caleb Harrington. With the exception of Leicht, all ran at regional and placed in the top 33, along with Parker Jones and Wren Parker, both of whom graduated. Leicht finished 29th at sectional, helping show the depth of talent in this class.
“I think, in time, they’ll be making history by making it to state all four years,” Holden said. “They’ve done it twice, and it’s a good possibility they can do it the next two. That makes the class pretty special, if that happens.”
Holden is happy with the efforts of the runners in preseason workouts. He said Harrington has run very well early and the others are working hard to achieve their goals.
“They’ve put the mileage in this summer, and it shows in these workouts,” Holden said. “They’re on schedule to perform very well.”
In addition to his juniors, freshmen Sean Roan and A.J. Alderman are two newcomers who are already running with the lead group at practice and will help contribute this season and add depth, Holden said.
There are other goals besides state, and Holden said they are just as important to his team, which is not looking past any of them.
“Right now, they have us seeded eighth at semistate, and they only take six (to state),” he said. “We might have some surprises for Fort Wayne. First of all, we want to represent our county and be the best. We want to take care of our conference, and we should be able to sail through sectional and regional, if everyone stays healthy.”
“Then, maybe we surprise some people in Fort Wayne,” Holden said. “That’s what I hope.”
The 2017 season gets underway for the Arabians with a Hoosier Heritage Conference matchup at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, at New Palestine High School.