100 cross country runners sparkle in afternoon brilliance

Zach Simpler sets personal best after not dropping out
September 22, 2017

Simply the best - An afternoon high school cross country meet at the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment in Lewes with three schools and more than 100 athletes running a 5K is pure and picturesque, quick and crisp. Sportsmanship abounds and everyone cheers the efforts of all the runners. It’s a family picnic of people without grills. Bring your dog. A cross country team designates seven runners, with the first five to finish counting toward the team score. The sixth and seventh finishers can displace the competition into higher numbers. Low score wins. There is rarely controversy, and it’s the runner’s responsibility to make the correct turns. Cape hosted Sussex Academy and Worcester Sept. 20, and why 70 athletes came out for Cape cross country this fall, I have no idea, but I know it’s a good thing.

Enabler with attitude - Zach Simpler, now a Cape senior, has been my fast friend since I gave him an autographed Cape Gazette hat when he was in eighth grade. He came by me at the two-mile mark at the Sept. 20 cross country meet and said, “Fredman, my stomach hurts.” I almost told him, “stop then,” but not being his coach or his uncle, I just shrugged. I felt I let him down. Zach hung tough and finished the race and set a personal best - he was quite happy. I was sure glad I didn’t get in the way. I earned my nickname by runners trying to bargain their way out of a race. “Yo, coach Fred, man, I don’t think I can run this mile relay. I think I pulled a groin.” “That’s great, but that’s your hamstring.”      

Good hands goalie - All I know about a libero in volleyball is it rhymes with dinero, Camaro and sombrero. "The libero is allowed to sub in and out for a back-row player at any time without stopping the play. They are known for their defensive abilities." Cape's Emily Lamb, a freshman, had 23 digs against Indian River, many coming against IR power-hitting freshman Raychel Ehlers. I'd stand there like those soccer guys on the wall versus a direct kick just protecting myself. How anyone can send back 23 shots is beyond my comprehension. I think goalies from all the sports, including soccer, field hockey and lacrosse, should have to play backline libero during an entire volleyball match versus big hitters. It would be revealing. Early in my career (whatever that was), a tentative personality who played soccer goalie said to me, “I think I’m a pretty good goalie, except I’m afraid of the ball.” My response, “Be afraid of it going in the goal.”

You never know - Used in sports, that declarative sentence is always followed by the interrogative answer, “Know what?” because “you never know” means “mostly, you do know,” otherwise upsets would be commonplace and therefore not upsets at all. Dover hockey had a “you never know” win over Cape to start the season while the Vikings dealt with a “you never know” loss. And the phrase “just have fun out there” infers there is a good chance you may not. Think of the biggest upside upset in sports you have ever been a part of as a player, coach or parent. They are hard to find, and to circle back to the beginning, “mostly you do know” the outcome before the game is played.    

Going then get gone! School choice is mostly sports choice; no one really cares about the student looking for the best math curriculum, or how fat the kid is after a summer solving word problems. I’m all in favor of relaxed transfer rules. It keeps everyone on their toes. The downside is some talented kids (teenagers) get an overly inflated opinion of themselves and are always dropping their own rumors, “I’m gone,” to which I respond, “Well, bye-bye.” But it’s totally uncool to downtown the place you left or do local fundraisers for “your team” that ain’t local. Grandmom Rose: “People know what they know and they know what you know.” The only secrets in these parts are in Ocean City.      

Snippets - Good Counsel (5-2) hockey will play at Cape at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23. It will be the team’s ninth game this season while it will be game No. 3 for the Vikings. Northeast High football is at Cape on Friday night. They are 2-1 on the season and have scored 95 points in the first three games, while yielding 79. Cape (1-1) has scored 36 while giving up 46. I will be in therapy Friday morning, physical, of course. I just wish I didn’t know so many other clients. Go on now, git!