Along with many new runners, the cross country team has also gained a new coach, Matt Cross, this year.
Cross is not a teacher at Leesville, but he has coached track for two years, so he has background experience.
Cross said, “Cross country is easier to coach for because there’s only one event to train for. You have kids training for only a 5k, where in track, you have kids training for different events like the 4×4 and the half-mile.”
The new coach was a sudden change, as Cross was not announced as the new cross country coach until late spring. He worked as an assistant coach for track in 2011; he was co-head coach beside Michael Grether for the track season in 2012, and this year will be his first year as the head coach of cross country.
Marco Fajardo, senior, said, “[Having a new coach is] obviously going to be different, but the coach is young and ran in college, so he has firsthand experience.”
Besides the new coach, many new freshmen and upperclassmen runners have been added to the team.
Toney-Paite Phillips, sophomore, said,“It’s exciting for the most part. The races take a lot of work, but it’s also rewarding.”
Currently, two out of seven varsity runners — Taylor Hemming and Sydney Winchel — are freshmen.
“We have a huge freshman class. They take up half the team, but there’s huge potential there,” said Fajardo of the new members of the team. “They’re pretty nice and fun to be around.”
Between having a new coach and all of the new runners, the cross country team is very different this year, especially for veteran runners.
Emily Echols, sophomore, said,“There’s a different coach and some of the people, like the seniors, are gone. It’s sad because we looked up to them, and they went to college, but it’s good because we are trying to be what they were.”
Even with all of the changes on the team, the runners are still working hard to meet the goals that Cross has for this season.
“[I] want both boys and girls to finish second in the conference and fourth at regionals,” said Cross.