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“The Essence of Sports” – New Licking Cross Country Coach

Photo courtesy of Coach Eriq Kristek
Levi Stout, fifth from right, medaled for his fifth place finish at Willow Springs.

Photo courtesy of Coach Eriq Kristek
Levi Stout

By Rick Duncan, Publisher

This year Licking has a new coach for cross country. The Licking News is proud to welcome Eriq Kristek to the team. Kristek played baseball at Drury College for 1-1/2-years under Scott Nasby and Byron Hagler. He has a seven-year teaching career, including coaching JH baseball and boys basketball at Waynesville and he was at Lebanon one year before that. Eriq and wife, Kaitlyn (Gambill) Kristek relocated to Licking in May.

“I’m excited to be a Wildcat and I appreciate the winning culture at Licking,” Coach Kristek said. He emphasized that he came to Licking for the coaching opportunities. Kristek will also be the assistant girls basketball coach for Licking.

This year’s team will consist of Kristek; Assistant and JH Coach Kayla Lewis (Kristek says they work well together); HS – seven runners on the boys team and one runner on the girls team; and JH – ten boys and four girls are running. Returning from last year are Jr. Levi Stout, who advanced to the State meet last year; Jr. Titus Scavone; Sr. Dominick Donley and Jr. Logan Lane. New high school runners include Zach Liveoak, Ethan Stout and Serena Carter. JH runners include, in 8th grade, Heaven Emerson, Jett Sullins, Gage Mesger, Colin Kuhn, Parker Huff, James Hawkins, Keegan Bright and Jeffery Alkire; and in 7th grade, Kaylynn Rinne, Olivia Clayton, Keirum O’Daniel, Dawsynn Moore, Logan Kuhn and Trey Gambill.

Coach Kristek has set many goals for the year. He hopes to build a Cross Country program that competes at a high level and he wants to develop a large enough program to compete as a team, boys and girls, not just as individual runners. He is shooting for the team to place in the Licking meet on October 5, 2023. Kristek would like to build on last year’s successes, and is looking for returners to shave off 90 seconds from last year’s times.

Their first meet of the season was on Thursday, Sept. 7, at Willow Springs. Levi Stout medaled, in 5th place, and Kristek believes it was a personal best for Stout at that course, 18:58.15. Ethan Stout moved up three positions in the sprint at the end of the race and he has good sprint speed. Three JH boys medaled, with Colin Kuhn 5th, Jeffrey Alkire 9th and Jett Sullins 14th. The JH Boys team won their meet.

MSHSAA rules are that 14 practices must be completed before competing in a meet. In order to build the program, the coaches accepted kids through Friday, Sept. 1, so some don’t have enough practices to compete as of yet.

Coach Kristek has many philosophies in order to grow the program. His goals are to get kids to have fun and to develop an interest in running. He says they are a great group of kids and are there every day training.

“I’m excited about the upcoming season. We’ve got a good base,” he said. “We’re trying to get more kids out.”

“I’m hoping that three or four kids may run at state,” Coach Kristek added. “I’m expecting good things out of Levi Stout due to his returning prowess.”

The Licking News is expecting an exciting year in all Licking sports. Kristek seems very enthusiastic about coaching, about the team and about increasing interest in the sport. He is organized, a statistician and very personable on all levels. He is truly “The Essence of Sports.”

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