The girl’s cross country program is chock-full of talent, and with 10 seniors and rising key pieces, there will be a lot of competition for varsity spots. With the number of seniors the squad has, this may be the year the Panthers make up the gap in 6A cross country.
Having loads of experience is going to be an advantage the Panthers will have on the course but, unfortunately, that doesn’t last forever.
“It feels awesome to have all these seniors,” head cross country coach Jimmy Adams said. “Except for the fact they are all seniors, and I’ll be losing all of them after this year, but it is nice to have that many kids with so much experience under their belt.”
According to Adams, this group of seniors has been a class that has sustained success through its first three years and expects them to be his top runners and the leaders to teach the next group of underclassmen.
Adams pointed out seniors Vivian Kalb, Bridget McAdam, Gretta McEntire, Lexi Silva, Abigail Monaghan, and sophomore Katie Hazen as just a few of the many runners that will have a big role to play this season.
“As far as our top runners, it will be the usual suspects that came in as freshmen and started tearing things up,” Adams said.
There will be plenty of other pieces on the roster that will make an impact as the varsity spots are always up for grabs. Competition is something that this group thrives on, and a solid core group will be needed to help the Panthers close gaps on crucial points.
“They are very competitive with one another,” Adams said. “They got that taste of success as freshmen, and they have wanted it every year. It is like any sport where you want to knock off the person in front of them, which benefits the coaches.”
Adams is aware of one big aspect of competition – helping athletes deal with the stress of competition and how to brush off a bad race. But, overall, the opportunity to be the best still benefits the team.
“We as coaches had to learn how to walk the kids through the stress of it,” Adams said. “If you are at five or six, there are kids chomping at your heels which creates added stress. But it is never a bad thing to have competition. You want as many number ones that you can have and, obviously, you can only have one, but you want them all trying to be that.”
According to Adams, one strong quality the squad possesses is that the group works together to handle the workload and responsibilities as a team. Still, Kalb has been the primary leader since she was an underclassman.
“If you had to focus down on one person, I’d say it would be Kalb,” Adams said. “She has stepped up all three years so far, and I’m sure she will this year as well.”
Girls cross country will be taking aim at a fourth straight trip to the state meet and has the weapons to take a giant leap into the top.
The goal for the squad is simple – improve in the 6A standings. The girls cross country team finished in 10th place in the state meet last season. The current group has been pushing closer and closer to the top and has gone above and beyond every expectation.
“They have done well with the expectations we have put on them,” Adams said. “We have seen them get a little better in the postseason every year. With this group, being within the top 10 or even top five in the state would be a nice way for them to finish off their careers.”