During his first year as coach of the cross-country teams at Norwalk High School in 2012, Carlos Rodriguez had one of the FCIAC's better distance runners in Ezequiel Rodriguez, who was second team all-FCIAC.
The head coach hopes that Ezequiel Rodriguez (no relation) will be joined this year by some other breakout boys' runners and help the Bears improve on their 11-7 record from 2012.
"This year, we've got a better team, so I'm definitely expecting the dual meets to be better," the coach said. "But God knows we could have a better team and still not improve in the FCIACs. I'm hoping fifth would be nice."
Last year, the boys' team finished sixth in the FCIAC, a respectable showing in the talent-laden conference.
Joining Ezequiel Rodriguez as leaders of this year's boys' team are senior captain Christian Bonebrake, junior Timothy Haddon, junior Jacob Alexander, sophomore Kyle Fallon and sophomore Michael Valleri.
Their coach expects Bonebrake and Fallon to make an all-FCIAC team alongside Ezequiel Rodriguez.
The girls team figures to struggle a bit more than the boys team, the coach said. The team finished 6-12 in 2012, and Rodriguez said a similar record would not surprise him.
Rodriguez said he has a more difficult time finding female runners than male runners. Part of that stems from the lack of middle-school feeder programs in Norwalk, he said.
"I'd love to see them get a program in the middle schools," he said. "I live up in Newtown and we have that there. It's great to have a feeder system. I have great athletes at Norwalk High, but I get them for one season and that's it. They go play other sports like field hockey and soccer."