Cross country, cross world

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Camps and training programs are just a few of the things local high school athletes do in the summer to prepare for an upcoming season.

Delta junior Kevin Bartels this summer will prepare for his senior cross country season by competing in an international event in Australia in July. Bartels, who finished 23rd in the Class 1 cross country state finals in the fall, was one of 35 Missouri runners to be selected for the trip to compete in the Parkroyal Down Under International Games.

"I think the competition will be really, really tough," Bartels said. "It's the best of the best."

Bartels will compete for Team Missouri in two races, one involving only American runners and one involving runners from Australia and New Zealand. The Missouri squad is coached by Ed Broxterman, an All-American high jumper at Kansas State who competed for the U.S. in the 2000 Olympics in Australia.

For the 6-foot-5 Bartels, cross country is a relatively new sport. Bartels ran his first season of cross country as a freshman. After taking off for his sophomore season, he ran this past fall and qualified for the state meet.

"Our high school hasn't had cross country for 34 years, and then my freshman year they brought it back up," Bartels said.

Bartels used his year off to concentrate on getting better, a strategy which garnered results. He placed third in the district meet to qualify for state.

Bartels, who also plays basketball and baseball for Delta, said he has really enjoyed getting into an individual sport.

"That's what I like; it is individual," he said. "What you put into it is what you get out of it. And you can really see how much you improve and how much you can improve."

Two races and sight-seeingAlong with competing in the two races, Bartels will get to see parts of the country as well during the 13-day trip. The group will spend most of the trip in Surfer's Paradise on the Gold Coast, while spending a couple of days in Sydney.

"I'd like to do a lot of sight-seeing, and learn about the culture" Bartels said. "I'd like to see how it's different than our culture."

In order to raise money for his trip Bartels has been busy with fundraising events. The Delta Booster Club has held several dances on Bartels' behalf, and Bartels has run a concession stand himself at youth league games.

"The community has helped out a lot," Bartels said. "They've definitely supported me with everything. They've been really good."

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