By David Gobel and Jonah Rosenbaum
Tim Sharpe is back as the cross country coach after former coach Johnny Gray decided to leave for a job opening at UCLA two weeks ago. Sharpe had been the Wolverinesâ cross country coach until the 2006 season, and Gray took over as coach last year.
Sharpe hopes to continue the winning tradition started last year as the boys team went to the state finals, and Cami Chapus â12 went to the state finals for girls.
“I think Coach Sharpe is the best replacement we can get. Iâve heard really great things about him,” runner Hank Adelmann â11 said.
“Coach Sharpe has worked with Coach Gray and they share many ideas about training and competing,” Chef dâequipe Geoff Bird said.
Although the team this year is relatively young, expectations for the team remain high.
“Iâve got to be realistic but shoot for the stars,” Sharpe said. “We have some very talented kids, I would not take out the possibility of going to state.”
Gray was torn about leaving Harvard-Westlake for UCLA.
“It was a very difficult choice, I loved the kids here, I felt like they were my biological children,” he said.
The decision has affected many runners as Grayâs departure was sudden and many team members were close to Gray.
“You know after three months of summer training it really sucks. It was a huge blow for the team,” Will Tobias â12 said. “Johnny Gray was a great coach, he really knew how to motivate you.”
“Obviously itâs tough,” Ben Saunders â11 said. “[But] I understand where heâs coming from taking a college job over high school. There are no hard feelings. Coach Sharpe is doing a fantastic job, heâs a great coach.”
“My intention is to stay here as long as I am welcome,” Sharpe said.
Five of seven runners return and the team will be bolstered by Chris Vanderschans â10, who projects to be the number three runner.
“We should have a great team this season, and it is going to be a really exciting year,” Vanderschans said.
“As for what we can accomplish as a group, the sky is the limit. It is definitely a realistic goal to win CIF with the talent we have, and I think a top three state finish is very possible as well. We have great coaching, so if we work hard in practice, weâll be able to perform in meets.”
Girlsâ runner Bridget Golob â10 has hopes high enough to rival the boysâ lofty expectations. The girls team went to the CIF finals last year, and Golob expects even more this season.
“Compared to past years, we have a lot of talent on our team. I think we can go to state, and challenge for a top finish,” Golob said.
The girlsâ team will have to go through the same coaching change as the boys, but Golob is confident that it wonât hinder the teams.
“Itâs a different style, but he (Sharpe) knows whatâs going on,” Golob said.