By Zach Smart
When one hears about a team’s uptick in numbers, one might assume that means five or six first-year runners expected to make an immediate impact. You might picture a lengthier roster and factor in augmented depth.
For the Fairfield boys cross-country team, the roster number from last year has multiplied by five. That’s because the Green Knights barely fielded a boys team last year with just a single runner.
“When you have roughly 80 kids in each class, we don’t have a lot to pick from,” said head coach Marcia Roan with a chuckle.
This year, a quartet of juniors could potentially alter the perception of the program that was reinstated in 2010. If Fairfield’s performance at the prestigious Peter Geraghty High School Invitational at the Kansas-flat course at Mount St. Mary’s University is any portent of things to come, the suddenly high-flying Knights could land on the PIAA Class AA radar.
The boys cross-country may take a back seat to soccer and football with numbers, albeit they’ve got the quality runners to register their presence on the local level.
Front runner John Roan, who clocked a scorching 17:39.9 in his first-ever 5K, is one of those kids who never has to worry about his participation in family events.
His mother, Marcia Roan, is the first-year runner’s head coach. Whether he’s hitting the Appalachian trail for some mileage, busting out intervals on the home track in practice, darting up hills (Coach Roan places strong emphasis on uphill training and recovery) or managing his diet, Roan’s mother is there for him every step of the way.
Roan’s grandfather, Delone Catholic cross country coach Scotty Watt, helped his mother get acclimated to the world of XC by giving her a wealth of knowledge on the sport and how to properly train runner. Roan’s father is present at each meet, keeping tabs on the kids’ splits, personal bests and the overall team time.
If you get invited to a Roam family barbeque, bringing a fresh pair of spikes and a stop watch might just get you a freshly-cooked burger.
John Roan’s original season goal was to get down to 17:30. He might find himself with more lofty aspirations considering it was his first-ever 5K race.
Also, the grass-dotted course at Mount St. Mary’s is easy on the legs. The loops are flatter than a pool table and it has no major obstacles. It’s considered by many to be a “fast” course (the course to set a PR on at the end of the season) and the Knights have certainly prepared for more rugged roads at dual meets this season.
Nevertheless, Roan has the remainder of the season to shatter 17:30 and shred seconds from there. Roan dropped 30 seconds from his original 3,200 time to record a personal best (10:30) during the spring track season.