Wallace State cross country training: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgxnOjxxmGk

HANCEVILLE, ALA. – This time a year ago, Wallace State cross country freshman Victor Bravo was focused on college and, though he loved to run, had few thoughts of pursuing the sport on the collegiate level.

That was until Wallace State athletics announced it was reintroducing the men’s and women’s cross country programs. Bravo, an Albertville grad, was the first Wallace State cross country signee last May and has flourished for the Lions during his freshman season this fall.

As Wallace State prepares for its final regular season meet in Tuscaloosa this weekend, Bravo and his teammates have cherished the opportunity to be a part of the rebirth of Wallace State cross country.

“It’s been an awesome experience. I have great coaches here, and I think we’ve done a great job in our first season. To be able to earn an athletic scholarship has been amazing. I’m the first in my family to go to college, so being here is a great accomplishment for me and my family,” said Bravo, who has placed first for Wallace State in each meet this season.

The sentiments are the same from the women’s team.

“I was on the way to babysit when I got the call about Wallace State beginning its cross country program again. It was an honor to be asked to take a look at the program and now I can’t imagine being anywhere else. We’ve connected as a team and as friends,” said Miriam Smith, a Guntersville High grad.

Wallace State cross country coach Stan Narewski is guiding the program for a second stint after leading the men’s team to five conference championships and the women to a pair of league titles before the program was discontinued in 2008.

With more than 30 years of coaching and training under his belt, Narewski has found this season’s squad to be one of his favorites.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a finer group of individuals running. Everyone does exactly what I tell them to do, and there’s a lot of learning going on. They are eager to learn. Our team members come from good high school coaches. It’s an adjustment, however, to learn a whole new training regimen. They’ve adapted well,” said Narewski, a three-time NJCAA Coach of the Year, who also led Wallace State’s men’s track and field team to a NJCAA Division II national title in 1997.

Both Wallace State teams have competed in two meets at Jacksonville State this fall and one each at Montevallo and UAH. The Lions have had team and individual performances place higher than from certain four-year colleges.

“As we are competing against the large colleges, we look for markers in the race for our runners to accomplish. We give them certain goals to meet, where we want them to be at a certain point or we key on a specific competitor to beat,” Narewksi. “We are learning to run as a team and learning how to finish. Each race is a dress rehearsal for the next one, and I find it satisfying to see us progress. We want to make a big jump as this team grows more and more.”

Tony Crider is serving as the team’s assistant coach after spending multiple years with Cold Springs’ cross country program.

“Wallace State is such a great school and a good stepping stone for our players to transition to a four-year college. It’s a blessing for me to be here,” Crider said. “I’ve relished the chance to work with our players and be around the great people at Wallace State.”

After this weekend’s meet in Tuscaloosa, Wallace State will prepare to host Marion Military Institute on Oct. 28 for the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) meet.

“Marion Military has a head start on us by one year. They are a talented opponent and formidable,” Narewksi said.

The men’s team is made up of Bravo, Christian Baker (J.B. Pennington), Andrew Blair (Cold Springs), Johnny Carter III (Demopolis), Tyler Crowden (Lawrence County), Jacob Guthrie (Fairview), Dustin Howell (Southeastern), Morgan Smith (Cold Springs) and Brennan Wink (Ohatchee).

The women’s team consists of Taylor Barkley (Lawrence County), Jamie Murphree (Fairview), Marlena Ramirez (Boaz), Sophie Ramos (Albertville) and Miriam Smith (Guntersville).

“Individually, we have some runners who I think a year from now are going to have four-year colleges knocking at their door. Once this season is over, we’ll train hard for a full year and the results should be fruitful,” Narewski said. “Our runners can always say they are a student-athlete. No one can take that from them. They are lining up against competitors from Alabama, Auburn and Georgia Tech, and it’s something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”

For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit http://athletics.wallacestate.edu/

Wallace State’s cross country team members are, front row, from left, Miriam Smith, Marlena Ramirez, Jamie Murphree and Taylor Barkley, back row, from left, Victor Bravo, Tyler Crowden, Dustin Howell, Brennan Wink, Johnny Carter III, Morgan Smith, Jacob Guthrie, Christian Baker and Andrew Blair. Not pictured is Sophie Ramos.

Wallace State’s cross country team members are, front row, from left, Miriam Smith, Marlena Ramirez, Jamie Murphree and Taylor Barkley, back row, from left, Victor Bravo, Tyler Crowden, Dustin Howell, Brennan Wink, Johnny Carter III, Morgan Smith, Jacob Guthrie, Christian Baker and Andrew Blair. Not pictured is Sophie Ramos.

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Russell Moore

Staff Writer, Communications and Marketing

Wallace State Community College

P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077

1-866-350-9722    256-352-8443 direct

Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu