LOOMIS – At first glance, a changing of the guard with the coaching reins for the Del Oro High cross-country program might tend for one to think that the Golden Eagles are in line for a rebuilding season.
But that’s hardly the case.
Longtime Del Oro track coach Dustin Fee, who stepped aside last spring from his head track duties to take an assistant’s role and coach the Golden Eagles’ distance runners, has replaced former cross-country co-coaches Kevin and Linda Ostenberg.
“I know all the kids from track, and I’ve coached cross-country before, so it’s not new to me,” said Fee. “Right now we have a group that is hard-working and looking forward to the season.
Fee notes that about 60 runners turned out for the early Del Oro practices but he expects that number to swell as school opens next week.
“We’ve already taken the kids to a camp, and they’ve set their goals for what they want to do this season,” said Fee. “Everyone is getting on the same page.”
The Eagles return two boys’ varsity runners who helped the Golden Eagles reach last season’s CIF state meet. They include Brayden McLaughlin, who set the school record last spring in the 1,600-meter and competed at the CIF State track meet, and Reed Garland.
“Brayden and Reed are doing a good job,” said Fee. “But we have a lot of runners trying to contend for those other top spots on the varsity.”
Alyssa Pessin returns for what will be a young Del Oro girls team. Pessin has already been tagged as the team’s captain.
Del Oro also welcomes a highly touted incoming freshman girls’ runner with a lot of potential. Running this past summer for the Buffalo Chips Running Club out of Sacramento, Riley Chamberlain set a new stadium record for girls 13-14 at the USA Track and Field Youth Outdoor Championships by running 10 minutes, 17.90 seconds to win the 3,000 meters.
“Riley is running well in practice,” said Fee. “She’s a great addition to the team.”
Fee has put together a different schedule this season for the Golden Eagles. Del Oro will open its campaign when it runs in the Oakmont Invitational Aug. 25. The Eagles will then compete in the Kim Duyst Invitational Sept. 8. That race will be run on River Oaks Golf Course in Ceres.
Del Oro will also vie at the Nevada Union Invitational in Grass Valley Sept. 15 before opening Sierra Foothill League competition with a league meet at Willow Hills in Folsom Sept. 19. Del Oro will also send runners to the prestigious Stanford Invitational Sept. 29.