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Fall Sports Preview: Distance runners take to the trails for cross-country season
Athletes at East Central take advantage of cooler morning temperatures by running on the school’s cross-country course just south of the high school campus.
When most people think about “fall sports,” it’s football and volleyball that come to mind first. Still, sports fans need to remember there are additional athletes at work, as each of the area’s schools participates in cross-country competition. Unlike spring track, cross country does not take place entirely inside a stadium, and on a flat track, but rather involves running several miles over rugged, uneven terrain. It certainly isn’t a sport for everyone, but for dedicated distance runners, it’s an exciting time of year.
Over at East Central High School, Head Coach Paul Frost and his runners are getting pumped up for another good season. Frost said he has a “good group,” and said the team’s early workouts have been going well. He admitted the workouts started out pretty light, but said the team’s intensity will pick up as school gets under way.
The district alignments changed slightly for East Central, but Frost said he doesn’t expect it to have much of an impact. He said it may affect things on the girls’ side a bit, but that it won’t really change things for the boys.
Frost and his runners have set a number of goals for 2012, and right at the top is for the boys to win the district title. In addition, senior leader Adam Lee has his sights set on an individual district title. The girls were not happy with their finish last season, and plan to bounce back in a big way this season. For the guys, these goals mean getting past Corpus Christi Carroll. For the ladies, it means lots of hard work and dedication leading up to the district meet.
The Hornets aren’t really training any differently this season, but rather are trying to intensify their training. Frost said they are working to become “more focused” in everything they do.
Frost said his team’s greatest strength is in its leadership. He feels he has a solid group on the boys’ side, and said four-year letterman Savannah Silva is the girls’ obvious leader.
“We are real excited to get the season going,” Frost said. “We have a good set of goals and we are ready to achieve them.”
With Coach Greg McWilliams’ departure from Floresville, Coach Aubrey Lindberg takes over the Tiger and Jaguar cross-country program. She is a distance runner herself, and brings a new sense of excitement and enthusiasm to the sport at Floresville. This is her first opportunity as a head coach, and Lindberg is excited, describing the new assignment as her “dream job.”
The Tigers and Jaguars return about half of their varsity roster from last year, and should be strong in 2012. One big change being seen this year is that the new basketball coaches in Floresville are no longer mandating cross country for conditioning purposes. As a result, Lindberg has found herself with a smaller, but more focused, group of runners.
Lindberg feels the team has a solid group of dedicated runners, and that there are a number of great leaders on this year’s team. She understands how the sport requires a great deal of “focus” and “dedication,” and feels the team’s leaders will help develop the younger runners.
In La Vernia, the Bear and Lady Bear runners are always among the state’s best, and the teams will return a number of varsity lettermen from last year’s district championship teams.
On the girls’ side, La Vernia returns five of seven runners from its state runner-up team last year. Olivia Hinojosa was the 2011 state bronze medalist, and together with Shaley Trammel and Bailee Vrana, the trio were named to the 2011 San Antonio Express-News All Greater San Antonio 3A Team.
For the boys, Roberto Guzman returns as the defending individual district champion. Like the ladies mentioned, Guzman and Dillon Goan were both named to the 2011 San Antonio Express-News All Greater San Antonio 3A Team, as well.
“As always, we believe that we are going to be competitive based on our athletes’ work ethic and program history,” said Head Coach Richard Hinojosa. “We have a great nucleus of returners, strong young athletes coming up from the sub varsities, and there is always the ‘X factor’ -- some kid who just flat out busted his or her tail over the summer, and wants to contribute.
“We have a very tough schedule, but we believe it will help us later in the season,” he added.
Poth, Stockdale, Nixon-Smiley, Falls City
In addition to the aforementioned programs, the smaller 2A and 1A schools in the county also participate in the sport of cross-country running. Because of their smaller school size, however, most of these cross-country athletes are also involved in other activities, such as football, volleyball, and band. They don’t always get the extensive practice time that athletes at larger schools get, but their level of dedication is just as strong, and they will undoubtedly run hard as they represent their schools.
Each of the four remaining schools has found a great level of success, and several athletes challenged for the state’s top spots last season. While there may be a lot of question marks going into the season, it seems likely we will be talking about runners from these schools by the end of the season.
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