Cross country running offers competitive opportunities for the individual as well as the team that other sports lack, according to LaRue County High School coach Jim B. Phelps.
“In cross country, an athlete can race against himself from race to race and try to get better,” he said. “As a team, I hope we will be competitive. I think we have the potential to make a good run in region this year if everyone works hard leading up to November.”
"But even if we can’t put together a competitive team, I expect our runners to compete against themselves.”
He knows his mix of young athletes, with more than half the 12 runners in middle and elementary school, will be up against strong, experienced teams composed of mainly upperclassmen.
“We never had a full boys’ team last year for varsity because we had so many middle school athletes,” Phelps said.
But, his roster includes experienced runners, even though young. It also includes senior Adam Sandidge, a six-year runner who last year captured the Region Two title and ran fifth in the state.
“He should make a good run at state this year,” said Phelps. “Very determined, his hard work in the offseason makes him competitive and he really understands what he has to do to be competitive as an individual.”
In addition to his regular season schedule, Sandidge will run in a few college prep meets including the Tiger and Valkyrie runs and the Greater Louisville Classic.
The roster also includes senior Dylan Goodin, sophomore Randy Young, freshmen Jake Cecil and Stiles Metcalf, eighth-graders Colton Thompson, Christin Silva, Chance Martin, seventh-grader Gabe Lafollette, fifth-grader Biven Turner, fourth-grader Cameron Mullins, and third-grade runner Jamie Grimes.
“Adam, Dylan, Jake, Randy, Stiles and Colton will be the main varsity runners. Colton will most likely run in some middle school events,” said Phelps.
According to the coach, Young, with three years’ experience, will be a key runner for the team mainly because of his willingness to work hard.
The coach described the other veterans:
Cecil, three years’ experience: very coachable, a fast learner who put in a lot of miles in the off season that will make him competitive.
Metcalf (three years): a tough competitor and tough kid who works hard and is willing to get better.
Thompson (four years): Returning from an injury; works hard and has a lot of potential to be competitive.
Lafollette (three years): Great kid; very coachable; young, but shows a lot of potential.
Though a senior, Goodin is a newcomer to competitive running but the coach said he worked extremely hard this summer.
“He put in a lot of miles and looks to be competitive, a great addition to the team,” said Phelps.
The coach said Sandidge will be the leader of the team.
“He is determined and knows what it takes to be competitive,” said Phelps. “We will look to him to push the other athletes and set an example for the younger runners.”
Team goals, according to Phelps, are to improve with each practice and each meet.
“If the boys do this, I will be satisfied,” he said. “Then everything else will fall into place for region.”
The coach said the region has shifted a bit this year, but he expects Edmonson County and the Bowling Green area schools – South Warren, Warren Central, and Warren East – to be competitive.
“In addition, John Hardin was moved into our region, and they will be competitive‚” the third-year coach predicted. Phelps, with nine years classroom experience, teaches reading and social studies at LaRue County Middle School.
The Hawks’ season opener is Aug. 29 at Green County.