The time of the long run has returned.
High school cross country season has begun and the Centralia High School Panthers Cross Country team is ready for the starting line, the starters gone and the 3.1-mile run.
This season CHS head Country Coach Jason Watermann is bringing 28 runners to the starting line this season.
This year’s team brings a lot of experienced runners to the course. Almost half the squad, 12, are seniors. They are: Schyler Angell, Seth Beard, Logan Bird, Chris Heimann, Delaney Mast. Joella Mellegrito, Maelea Parrish, Nathan Riddle, Lily Stidham, Preston Teel, Kylee Walters and Logan West.
The team’s eight-race regular season schedule will keep them busy.
The team will again host the Centralia Invitational at the Centralia Community Golf Course, October 13.
But they do have some meets very close to home.
They have two meets in Mexico, the season opener September 5 and Mexico’s Autumn Classic, October 20.
It comes after a summer of well-designed practices to prepare them. Participants started by running three miles every other day, working up to five miles. Alternating practices involved cycling and recovery miles.
Now that the season is underway, Watermann said the practice model is “… keep it simple, put in the miles early, then work on speed.”
There will be Clarence Cannon Conference competition, and Watermann said, starting his sixth year as CHS cross country coach. On the girls’ side, Clark County and Monroe City will be challenges.
On the boys’ side, he said it was wide open. “Clark County graduated two of the best runners around, this season could go to whoever wants to put in the miles and put in the effort.”
That championship will be decided October 5 in Palmyra.
With state meet veteran Jozelynn Bostick returning, backed up by middle school medalist, turned freshman runner Shelby Lewis, Watermann said he sees strong potential for the girls’ team.
The boys team he said, has potential but will look different.
“We graduated five of seven varsity runners, but Nate Riddle, who has run in two state championships is coming back and we also have Rohan Holiman who was middle school conference champion.”
One change to this year’s schedule, Watermann said, is they have dropped the Quincy Invitational.
“But this will be our second year at the Gans Creek Classic, on Mizzou’s home cross country course, where Jozelynn set the school record.”