By Joyce Erekson
When John Hogan started coaching the Lynn Tech cross country team five years ago, he had his work cut out. He wasn’t just trying to improve a team, he was starting from scratch. Hogan had the task of resurrecting a program that had folded eight years earlier.
Not surprisingly, it was an uphill climb. The Tigers finished 0-8 his first year and didn’t have a winning record until last year when they went 4-3. There was, however, a light at the end of the tunnel. The team finished second in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference Championship meet and the seeds for 2015 had been planted.
“We always had high hopes and never gave up,” Hogan said.
The dedication paid off. Tech won the CAC Small title this year – the first time the team had done so since 2000. The Tigers finished 6-0 in the CAC Small and 8-3 overall. They also provided Hogan with his first coaching win against rival Chelsea and they came within three points of defeating Whittier, a CAC Large team.
Hogan had good numbers this fall (14) and more importantly, the group included a couple of runners who tuned up for the season by running in the Lynn Woods Summer Cross Country races.
“This year we had a lot of depth on the team,” Hogan said.
Junior Edgar Ortega has been the Tigers’ No. 1 guy this season. He’s a captain along with Nick Westin and Liono Kou. The trio did a lot of running in the off-season. Ortega started the season off by coming in first overall in a tri-meet against Chelsea and Presentation of Mary. Tech swept the top three spots overall in that meet with Jayden Lowe finishing second and junior Jose Morel, who Hogan said took up running this year to get in shape for basketball, taking third.
Ortega has made a huge leap since he was a freshman. Hogan said the junior has knocked 16 minutes, the equivalent of a whole race, off his time. He and Westin are on the swim team in the winter (Hogan is one of the coaches).
“He’s definitely dedicated,” Hogan said. “He’s a student of the sport.”
The Tigers have also benefitted from strong performances by sophomore Rodrigo Mora, who has really come on strong at the end of the season.
If any of the Tech runners need a little extra motivation, all they have to do is look at the banners on the wall of the field house – specifically those honoring Frankly Sanchez, to see what is possible. Sanchez was an outstanding runner for the Tigers back in the late 1990s. He went on to run for Georgetown University.
Although the regular season is over, the Tigers still have some big meets on the horizon. In addition to the state division meet, the CAC Championship meet will be held this Saturday at Greater Lawrence Tech and the state vocational meet will be held Nov. 4 in Wrentham.