Time to run: Cross country program gets ready for 2017 season
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Grayling High School cross country team – in its second year back as an official varsity sport at GHS – has a decent amount of boys this year, but is a little short on girls.
The cross country program had conditioning sessions during the offseason, three days per week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, in the month of July. The Vikings started their official practices for the season two weeks ago, and their first meets of the season were slated for this week. The group also has a two-day camp this week, “kind of a team bonding” event, according to Justin Andre, returning coach of the squad.
“I’m excited about cross,” Coach Andre said. “Cross is always fun.”
Andre said the group had 10 boys signed up, including several returners, and he expects the boys to have a successful year.
“The boys team should be pretty solid,” Coach Andre said. “We should have a solid top five.”
The girls need one more member to be able to post official team scores at meets.
Overall, Coach Andre said attendance is not 100 percent right now due to work obligations and family vacations, but he expects to have everyone once school starts in September.
Even with a few missing members at times and lack of numbers for the girls, Coach Andre said practices have been productive.
“It’s been going good,” he said. “We don’t have all of our kids yet.”
“Our program has come a long ways but it’s still kind of new to everyone,” Coach Andre said. “We’re still a grassroots team, still trying to build.”
The team – during its first two weeks of practice – was focused on conditioning and technique. The Vikings run on the cross country ski trails and mountain bike trails at Hanson Hills Recreation Area for practice.
“Right now, most of the kids are in decent shape,” Coach Andre said. “The biggest thing right now is getting some miles under their legs.”
“We have a great group of kids. Family-like atmosphere,” Coach Andre said.
The cross country courses for high school meets are approximately three miles. In middle school, they’re two miles, so “for the freshmen it’s a bit of a jump, getting them used to the extended distance,” Coach Andre said.
Goals for the squad? Set new personal records for each runner as often as possible. Earn a state finals spot for the boys team. Have a couple of state qualifiers for the girls.
“We want to try to qualify the boys team for state. We missed it by one place last year,” Coach Andre said. “Try to get one or two girls to qualify for state.”
The Vikings will compete in the Mancelona Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 26. On Wednesday, Aug. 30, the cross country squad will compete in the East Jordan Invitational.
The GHS cross country team will host meets at Hanson Hills on Monday, Sept. 25, and Wednesday, Oct. 11.
Grayling Middle School’s cross country program is also looking for more members at this time. Any GMS students interested in participating in cross country can contact Coach Samara Hartman via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (989) 390-9759. Interested students may also contact Coach Andre via email at email@example.com.