AA BXC COY Neal Garrison10376

Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette All-Area boys' cross country Coach of the Year Neal Garrison, of Mahomet-Seymour, at the high school on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017.Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette ¿ All-Area boys' cross country Coach of the Year Neal Garrison, of Mahomet-Seymour, at the high school on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017.

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Entering his 18th year at the helm of Mahomet-Seymour boys’ cross-country NEAL GARRISON is trying to get his athletes back to the heights of consecutive state titles in 2016 and 2017. He checks in before a new run:

You have a penchant for summertime trips overseas. What happened this year?

My wife, son and I went to Europe this summer, as we do almost every summer. We went to Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland. With the running people, we went to Prague, Czech Republic. Prague is where Emil Zatopek is from. He’s the only distance runner to ever win (Olympic gold in) the 5,000 (meters), 10,000 and a marathon. They’ve got a bunch of historic stuff from him there.

What’s the outlook for this year’s M-S boys’ team?

I don’t want to say I’m looking past this year, but I’m just cautious about this year. Generally speaking, cross-country boys generally are six months to a year younger than everybody. Usually it takes until junior year when they can handle the workload they need to get to be very successful. ... So I’m trying not to rush it, and I’m trying not to get them to rush it. We’re just going to do the best we can this year with fairly young bodies.

What’s the current makeup of your roster?

I’m trying to keep my numbers right at 20. I think 15 of them are freshmen or sophomores. So it’s a good thing, but they’re young. ... They’re a great, great bunch. I couldn’t be happier with the kind of guys I have on my team. ... And they’ll do the work.

What does having Mathias Powell win a state title last year do for the returnees?

They know it’s humanly possible for someone from Mahomet to do something special. I think it gives them a realistic perspective that it doesn’t have to be someone else.

Who are some guys to keep an eye on this season?

That’s a tough one. I’d definitely say Kyle Nofziger, he’s up there. I’d say Joseph Scheele. Jonah Singer. We have a junior who joined us, Nick Mies, and a kid named Taylor Fan.

Will this team be able to make some noise soon?

Yeah, absolutely. This group has the potential to be really strong. Maybe something will happen this year, but I think it’ll be a good year or two off.

Colin Likas is prep sports coordinator at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

Prep Sports Coordinator

Colin Likas is prep sports coordinator at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).