The Neah-Kah-Nie cross country team may have some familiar faces returning, but one of the new faces will have a big impression.
Mark McLaughlin is taking over as the new coach, but it won’t be the first time he’s been on campus.
He graduated from the campus almost two decades ago as a member of a group of runners that strung together three state championships in cross country.
“It has been awhile since I had run competitively, but I always have loved the sport,” he said.
Now, he is back as a teacher and coach at his alma mater.
He is working with former coach Brett Duer, to make for a smooth transition. “He has been gracious enough to share his knowledge.
“This is my first foray into coaching,” the new coach said.
McLaughlin already thinks the girls team is close to being a big threat in the state meet in November.
“There are still some pieces that need to come together on that. There are a couple of really talented runners on the team already.and we have a freshman with some really good talent as well.”
Among the top returnees are Dinah Schultz and Karissa Hadermann. On the boys side, there is Tyler Ernst.
“We’ll have a full team for both the boys and girls varsity,” the new coach said, although he noted that he would like to get more students out for the team.
“Some are still away for summer vacation,” he said right after the team could start practicing.
“There is a big freshman group – five freshman boys,” he added.
The Pirates will race Saturday at the Ultimook Invite.