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Khat Headlines Second-Year Mooseheart Boys Cross Country Team

By DARRYL MELLEMA, Associate Editor, Moose Magazine
Click Photo to Enlarge


Mooseheart’s cross country team takes its first steps onto a training run. The Ramblers open their season on Sept. 10 at Harvest Christian.



Mooseheart’s cross country runners listen to Coach Torinn Pope (far left) as he gives instructions prior to the day’s training. From left, team members are Wal Khat, Cristian Gomez, Josh Gordon, Mason Miller, Harley Griffin and Ben Morgan.



2013 Cross Country Schedule


MOOSEHEART, IL, Sept. 3Anyone who has ever toured Mooseheart’s campus is aware of the vast open spaces, the lake in addition to the miles of quiet roadway crisscrossing the 1,000-acre grounds.

For the second consecutive year, those acres are being subjected to the rumble of a dozen swift-moving feet as Mooseheart fields a boys cross country team. Six runners comprise the Ramblers squad this fall, a team that finds itself with some expectations.

Much of the focus falls on senior Wal Khat, who placed 24th in the 2012 IHSA Class 1A state meet. In addition to his star senior, first-year coach Torinn Pope has some talent with which to work. Pope serves Mooseheart as a Family Teacher in the Kentucky Residence Home.

"We've got a wide range of talent," Pope said. "We've got people who have just started running and we've got people who just want to get in shape."

The Ramblers are still working through their preseason paces in preparation for their first meet - Sept. 10 at Harvest Christian.

"They're improving and I see the passion that they do want to improve," Pope said. "Right now, we're in the process of going through pace work. A lot of them went through the summer without running and that puts us behind. Most programs we are going against have months of miles under their belts and we do not have that."

After his successful cross country season, Khat followed with a superb track season. He was second in the 800 meters and eighth in the 1,600 meters.

"He is as fast if not faster than he was last year," Pope said. "I've been working with him and he's just going to have challenge himself. He's not in a program where he's going to have competitive peers on the team. So I have to find ways to challenge him."

Pope said there are a number of ways he can work Wahl in order to allow his best runner to have success this fall.

"I can lace up my own shoes and run," Pope said. "Or I can get on my bike while he runs. Or he has to do it the hard way - which is to set his own times and his own regimen and set goals, and then hit them. If he can do that by himself, then when he gets into a competitive environment, he's going to do even better."

Running in the IHSA postseason meets will work well for Khat, said Pope, especially having run at Peoria's Detweiler Park, the longtime host of the state finals.

"The thing about cross country, that course is not going to change and now he knows how to run it," Pope said. "That's going to be good for him this year, and this year, I think he may have a teammate down there with him."

To this point, building endurance has been the key for Pope. The Ramblers have a six-meet schedule highlighted by competition in the Sept. 21 Kaneland Invitational - one of the longest-running invitationals in the area. The regular season concludes Oct. 19 at the Northeastern Athletic Conference Meet.



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