The Cannon Courier
The Cannon County High School cross country team is in preparation for the upcoming season and looking to repeat the success from last year. However, the Lions and Lionettes will have to replace several top runners from 2014, who have graduated. The 2015 season begins on Aug. 8 with a preseason race at Murfreesboro Riverdale.
"It is going pretty well," Lionettes junior Hannah Whited said. "We are practicing in the morning and three times a week on our own. We are getting our mileage in."
Whited, who is the top returning female from 2014, won the Girls Cross Country Athlete of the Year at the Cannon Courier Sports Awards a few months ago.
Lions junior Devin Gilpatrick added, "We are running a few times a week, and it is going good. Everybody is having a good time with it, and everybody is doing well. We have a better team than we expected to have."
A couple of weeks ago, the entire team took part in a minicamp at the University of the the South at Sewanee, in which CCHS worked on improving their speed on the track and increased their endurance on the trails. The camp also gave them a chance to build chemistry with each other before the regular season starts next month.
"The two-a-days gave them a jumpstart," CCHS head coach Marc Larson said. "The best thing it does through it is gives the team cohesive togetherness that you do not get down here. The camp brings these guys together. You can just tell when they come back you got more of a team than before they went up there."
Last season, the Lionettes advanced to the state meet as a team for the first time in school history at the Steeplechase in Nashville. However, a few of those seniors like Kristen Hale and Erin McReynolds have moved on, but Larson will look to returning stars, Whited, and seniors Elva Magana, Alayna Reed and junior Samantha Gaither, along with freshman Isabella Russo, Tera Srader, Tyger Kennedy, Angela Vassar and Flora Magana to try to repeat the feat from last season.
"I think if we all just work together and just push ourselves in practice," Whited said. "If we all motivate each other as a team and push each other. Then when it comes time for regionals we will just be pumped."
Larson added the Lionettes Top Five finishers in the race need to average a time of 22 minutes in hopes of competing in the regionals and advancing to the state meet in November.
As for the Lions, they will need to replace one of the top racers in school history in Marshall McReynolds, who signed to run at Austin Peay this season. However, CCHS has more depth this season as they try to qualify for the state meet as a team after only two males made it last season as individuals.
The Lions will be made up of seniors Aaron Smith, Reece Wisdom, Jacob Bentley; juniors Devin Gilpatrick, Donald Johnson; sophomores Austin Duggin, Corey Seymour and freshman Justin Whited, who is Hannah's younger brother.
"In Cross-Country, we have to have a whole bunch of times together," Gilpatrick said. "What we are trying to do is trying to get a bunch of our varsity to run closer together on these long runs. So, in the meets we will be closer together, and we will have closer times. It will help us get to regionals and past them into the state."
Larson added the Lions need to average an 18:30 in order to reach those goals for this season.
The regular season for both squads starts on Aug. 29 with the Voyles Classic at the Sharp Springs Classic in Smyrna.