New XC coaches step up to the starting line


Ari Fine

Coach Sonner and Andrews with the varisty XC team.

Mathew Pina and Shelby Roth

Hoping to continue the long-lasting traditions of great student-athletes and athletic programs at Richard Montgomery High School, new cross country coaches Kenneth Sonner and Steven Andrews have a positive outlook for the Rockets cross country team. The coaches speak positively of the team’s high morale during the competitive season and have brought exciting new energy to the team. 

Coach Sonner was both an indoor and outdoor track athlete for RM, graduating in the class of 1983. His time at RM has taught him what it means to be part of the Rockets cross country team.

“Taking the lead with the program has been a huge undertaking for the both of us and continuing the tradition of success has been the goal,” Sonner said. “And providing the children with consistency because we’ve been talking about consistently building success, so we’ve been continually adapting the program to fit their needs.” 

Like his counterpart, Coach Andrews is an RM alumni, graduating in 1999. He was an indoor track athlete as well as a writer for The Tide. In ways to help his runners develop, he has run them through a new course at Red Gate Park. 

“I personally love running, and I love running away from the roads and away from traffic so we have been able to have our kids run regularly at our new course at Red Gate Park,” Andrews said. “There’s a great hill, great scenery, and I think it’s mentally refreshing.” 

Both coaches not only see themselves as playing a key role in the development of their student-athletes as runners but also as students and individuals. 

“I personally believe and I think scientific research backs it up that exercise and in particular exercise in nature really could help kids academically,” Andrews said. “I love to give them a physical challenge but then also hopefully help all of them as students.” 

Being former RM athletes, both coaches understand the time and dedication it takes to become a successful runner. They see great potential in their athletes and see the potential for county and state champions.

“Cross country skills develop over a period of time, it’s not immediate, it’s something that accumulated over a period of time and it’s not just days or weeks or months it’s actually years,” Sonner said. “And it’s through dedication with training, a little bit of experimenting as it relates to pace and race strategy and just sticking with it.”  

While the team is composed of many talented upperclassmen, the coaches are excited to see the underclassman grow during their four years. 

“It takes a lot of effort and hard work so I love that we have a great bunch of freshmen on the team and we’re hoping that they continue to get better, you know, next year, the following year. And then there are really some at the top of the state in their senior year too,” Andrews said.

There is excitement and anticipation for the championship season, which begins this week with the regional championship and the state championships Nov. 12. The coaches are excited for these meets, as they anticipate their program challenging the top in the state.

“I think boys and girls have a shot at it [states] this year and they are competitive with the best programs in the state. So we are looking forward to Nov. 12 and hoping for good things for our team and all our runners,” Andrews said.