River View Cross Country team makes history

| November 3, 2017

River View High School qualified as a team for the state cross country meet. Pictured are those competing and the alternates. In front from left are: Lane Beatty, Austin Hill, Sawyer Neal, Nathaniel Stamper, Nick Grashel; and in back are Brice Cross, Austin Philabaum, Patrick Stanton, Brady Philabaum, and Brayden Cross. Missing from the picture is Colton Miller. Josie Sellers | Beacon

WARSAW – Self discipline and a lot of team work paid off this year for the River View High School boys cross country team.

For only the fourth time in school history, River View is sending a team to the state cross country meet, which will be held Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway.

“It’s a pretty amazing experience,” said Sawyer Neal, a senior on the team. “I was really excited to go back, especially with all of us going.”

Neal competed at the state meet last year as an individual, but this year he was joined by his teammates, senior Austin Hill, freshman Nathaniel Stamper, senior Lane Beatty, junior Nick Grashel, junior Patrick Stanton, and junior Colton Miller.

“It’s a completely different experience going as a team versus an individual,” Neal said. “When you compete as a team it’s not just what’s best for you, it’s about what is best for the team. It’s something you are going to remember forever though.”

While they all want to have their best times, Hill said they also are out there for their teammates.

“It’s bigger than you,” he said. “You want to perform your best as an individual, but you also want to do your best for everyone else when you know everyone is out there giving it their best too.”

Grashel agreed with Hill.

“Coach always says there is no bench in cross country,” Grashel said. “Everyone on the team is out there running and sacrificing.”

The last time River View sent a team to the state meet was in 2014 and both Neal and Beatty were alternates on that team.

“We were freshman, but we got to watch and see what it was like,” Beatty said. “Now we get to set examples for future generations.”

Head Coach Gwenna Neal feels Sawyer and Beatty were able to use that experience to help this year’s team.

“They took their passion from that and integrated it into this group,” she said. “We are building a culture here. They aren’t just in this for today. We are going to continue to build on this.”

Beatty said cross country is a lot of work, but it’s so worth it in the end.

“We are a strong team,” he said.

Throughout the year they focus not just on training for meets, but on team building.

“I used to play basketball and cross country was a completely different sport for me,” Hill said. “I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but it’s phenomenal. We have grown so close as a team. We are brothers and we have each other’s backs on and off the course.”

One way they built their team unity was through a weeklong boot camp with a former U.S. Navy Seal named Ryan McLaughlin.

“Everyone participates from the coaches to the junior high,” Grashel said. “We all do it and have the common goal to get through it. He does things like tell two people to go push his truck, but then we realize it won’t happen unless we all go help.”

Beatty said they learned a lot about team work from that experience.

“I think it made us more accepting, especially of the freshmen,” Stanton said. “They are just as much a part of the team as we (the upperclassmen) are.”

Stamper, the lone freshman on the team headed to state, appreciates their support.

“I wouldn’t be here without any of these people,” he said. “I’m grateful for their helpfulness.”

The upperclassmen and the team as a whole are very humble.

“I may be a number one runner, but I’m no more important than anyone else,” Neal said. “I learn something every single time from these guys. It doesn’t matter if you are the fastest or the slowest, I can learn something from you.”

Hill added that the team learned to trust each other and not stress at meets.

“I think one thing that is different from last year is our trust,” Hill said. “We went into regionals last year stressed and not knowing how we were going to perform. We were nervous. This year I sensed a difference and I know Sawyer did too. We all knew we were going to perform and that everyone was going to go out and give it their very best.”

Miller is honored to be part of this team.

“After the (regional) race we waited for our coach to come and tell us how we did,” he said. “Our coach came over with tears and then tells us we made it. That moment might have been the most exciting moment in my life. This team to me is a way to close my mind from the rest of the world and just run with my cross country family. This team means a lot to me and I would do anything for them.”

In addition to talking about their team bond, these seven River View High School athletes couldn’t praise their coaches, Gwenna and Dennis Wilson, enough. They all recognize that they too make sacrifices and want nothing but the best for the slowest to the fastest member of the team.

“We wouldn’t be here without them,” Hill said.

“It takes a village to do this,” Gwenna said. “It’s not just me. Coach Wilson and I back each other up very well and we have parents and supporters that jump in and help out. There are so many hands in this.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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