By MIKE MEILER
Niagara Gazette — When the gun fires to signal the start of today’s New York State 2012 Cross Country Championship meet, it’ll be business as usual for the three representatives from the Starpoint teams.
They’ve been there before.
Sophia Tasselmyer, Livia Chase and Matt Prohaska will all represent the Spartans at todays meet, which is being held at Elma Meadows. It will be Tasselmyer and Prohaska’s second time at states and Chase’s third.
Tasselmyer highlights the trio. Only a freshman, she enters states ranked fifth in New York State Class B. She finished 29th in last year’s state meet in only her first year of running.
“Girls can come into their physical-readiness sooner than boys, and the nature of (cross country) isn’t like basketball where girls would have to get bigger to compete in a physical game,” Starpoint coach Brian Lasher said when asked about his star freshman. “There’s no physicality to it, so if they’re willing to prepare, they can get good.
“She’s talented and has come a long way in understanding training. I’m expecting a huge improvement (on last year’s finish).”
Chase has come close to Tasselmyer’s success throughout her career. The junior ranked top-10 in the state during the year, but enters the race 29th after a virus kept her from practicing for a week.
“The sectional meet (last week at Elma Meadows) was her first race back, and in the toughest division by far, she made the last state qualifying spot by four seconds,” Lasher said. “It wasn’t quite where her normal performance would be. Unfortunately, it’s a training sport and she lost just a bit being out.
“So far this week she’s been incredible training. The top-20 finishers are medalists and states, and I’m expecting (Chase and Tasselmyer) to both be well into that.”
Lasher also feels good about Prohaska’s chances. The senior is ranked 66th in the state after finishing sixth in sectionals. He finished 196th in last year’s states.
“It wasn’t his best race last year, but we’re feeling he’s going to move way up on that number this year,” Lasher said. “He’s a very strong, very powerful runner and this course lends itself to the stronger runners because it’s pretty challenging. His training has been great this week so we feel pretty good about his chances to do very well.”
Joining the Starpoint trio will be Niagara-Wheatfield’s Jack Jibb, as well as Lockport’s quintet of Dan Jones, Matt Kaczmarek, Mitch Lioacano, Hannah Kurbs and Ally Lang.
Jibb, a sophomore, will be making his debut in state competition.
“He’s ranked something like 125th in Class A, but I think he can move up a little bit above that,” NW coach Dick Bartha said. “He’s just starting to develop. I think he’ll improve with this race, but the big jump will be seeing what he can do next year with more training.”