Augusta Cross Country Season Preview
August 17, 2013Augusta Independent Schools
As students return to school, that signifies the beginning of the fall sports season. At Augusta Independent, the cross country team is kicking off its third season. The team is trying to pick-up where it left off last season, which was having two individuals make an appearance at the State Cross Country Championship.
“If you had asked me at the beginning of last season if we would have anyone going to state in just our second year, I would have probably been doubtful,” Coach Tim Litteral reflected. The team lost one of those state runners (Tanner Kelsch) to graduation. The other, Camryn Snapp, returns as a sophomore. “I don’t want to put extra pressure on my team, but I feel like we will have individuals back there this year. Tanner is definitely a loss in more ways than just on the course, but Camryn has the drive to surpass what he accomplished last year. We’ve also had some other high school runners come out this year that might be able to make it there in a year or two, if they really want to.”
Overall, Augusta’s numbers are up this year. While the high school has about the same number of runners, middle school runners have almost doubled. Two of the Panthers eighth graders, Thomas Mains and David Reed, will be splitting time between middle school and high school races. “Thomas primarily ran high school last year, and I expect that’s primarily where I’ll have him this year,” Litteral said. “David ran a couple of high school meets, but mostly ran in his age group. We may try to get him a couple more high school races to get him prepared for solely running high school next year.”
The other big change to the program this year is the addition of the elementary team. Approximately 15 students, primarily in grades 3-5, have come out for the team. The team started practicing as school began. “I can already see some potential, after just a few practices,” Litteral stated. “Developing a feeder system by starting middle school last year and elementary this year is something I’ve felt was important since the end of our first season. I think if you can get students running early, they will be more likely to stick with it through high school. The other hopefully positive effect is that the more years they run, the more successful they will be. It also gets our younger students active.”
“I really like the direction our program is heading right now,” said Litteral. ”We’re growing in numbers and expanding opportunities for students to be involved. I’ve also seen a change in the mindset of our returning, older runners. Many of the middle school runners, and even some of the high school members, look at Camryn and try to follow his lead. He’s just a sophomore, but he’s focused and determined and has the experience of running at state. We lost a good leader in Tanner, so I’m relying on Camryn to help fill that void. He’s still young, but he’s learning how to handle it.”