Patriots Return With Firepower For The Fall

Returning Database Boys' All-Team Rankings (Based on Average): 40th
Returning AIA D3 Boys' Team Rankings (Based on Average): 6th
Returning AIA D3 Girls' Team Rankings (Based on Average): 8th
Both the American Leadership Patriot teams of Queen Creek have some solid core leadership returning this season. Last year at the Crossroads Sectionals, the Boys' team finished Runner-Up in the D3 Section 2 boys' race, while the lady Patriots placed third in their race.
Gabriel Tasker (Sr.) was the individual Section Champion last year and he'll return as the low stick for the Patriots. Behind Tasker, the Patriots have some big gaps to close in order to challenge the reservation schools. We've seen some speed from them on the track and if they can translate that into aerobic strength over 5km, we could see some big surprises this fall.
The girls have a little bit of a tighter spread with Olivia Roberts (So.), Ashley Brewer (Jr.), and Kadence Lawlor (Sr.) making up the top three for the Patriot girls, a little over a minute apart. They'll be joined by some new freshman who could tighten things up for the patriot squad in the championship races.
Coach Hayley DeLano Says…
Who are your top returners?
We have several boys returning but quite a few newcomers. Our top returning boys are Gabe Tasker, Justin Varney, Matt Russo, and Ethan Spangenberg. Our girls' program is going to be strong as well. We have Olivia Roberts, Ashley Brewer, and Kadence Lawlor returning. They were all key runners from sectionals and state, last year.
Do you have any impact freshman or incoming transfers?
Yes. Bunch Gbondo transferred to American Leadership Queen Creek and while we don't have a lot of details on race times, from what we have seen in practice he looks like a strong contender for a varsity spot. Freshman Evelynn Carr, Alona Heymore, and Lindsay Brewer will also add substantial strength to our team.
What kind of mileage/volume are you guys doing and what has been the focus of the current phase of your training?
We have been in a base training phase including, tempo runs, hill training, long runs, and strength. We are now adding more mileage and speed to our training as we approach season.

(Above: American Leadership girls placed 13th among D3 Girl teams at the AIA Cross Country State Championships - photo by John Hays)
How have you built Patriot XC culture? Are there any traditions that have stood the test of time for you guys?
There are definitely traditions amongst the boys and girls as new athletes come. They have fun bonding runs where they get to know each other. We have always set a culture of positivity and accountability. An example of this would be when we do core or strength training, we ask that only positive remarks are spoken to set the tone of mental strength and positive thinking. Because of this we typically have a bonded team with a family like environment.
What advice do you give to any Patriot athlete who just ran the worst race of their career?
I would say, "It's only one race. Learn from it, but don't dwell on it. Dwelling on it will bog you down, learning from it and moving on will make you stronger."