Bill Watters will take over as the Dukes’ cross country head coach this fall, swapping positions with Ben Friend, who will stay on as an assistant.
A Wellington High School cross country and wrestling coach for more than a decade, Watters hopes to bring a home meet here this season after 2016 plans to open the schedule at Findley State Park fell through.
“Everyone has dates locked up for meets and we’re having a hard time breaking into that schedule,” he said. “We think having an open practice where we invite conference schools out will really give them a chance to see how beautiful Findley is and how well its course runs. We’re still hoping to do the PAC meet at Findley this year and we’ll continue to push to make that happen.”
Watters said he hopes to hold that open practice the week of the Lorain County Fair, but no date has been finalized.
“The park has been more than helpful in getting things ready to host a meet down there,” he said. “They’ve been great to work with. We’re still putting feelers out to other coaches and are trying to find a date that works for everyone.”
The new head coach said returning letter-winners such as Kaitlyn McKinley, Emily Watters, Logan Evans, Sam Decker, and Drew Donovan will help ease the transition and continue an upward trend he’s seen take hold the past few years.
“The numbers have steadily gone up,” said Watters. “Last year was the first in the last 10 that we had a full boys team and a full girls team. We’ve had runners placing in large meets and almost had one make it out of regionals last year. Hopefully, we’ll get a few out and advance to districts this year.”
“There’s been such a rotating door of coaches that the kids don’t really have a set workout program,” he said. “I’ve talked to a lot of different college coaches and I think we have a program that’s going to take our kids to the next level. They’ve been working hard but haven’t been able to stick with a regiment. We have a good, solid group returning who are eager to take that leap.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.