Fall Sports Preview - Cross Country

Thursday, August 25, 2022
Article Image Alt Text

COLUMBUS CROSS COUNTRY Cougar Cross Country Coach Jennifer Crago has the largest number of athletes the cross-country program at Columbus High School has ever had. After a third-place team finish for the girls and a ninth-place team finish for the boys, the Cougars have high hopes for this season. Individually, the Cougars had three athletes place in the top 15 at the state meet.

The teams return most of the athletes from last year’s roster and begin the 2022 season with 11 boys and 10 girls. Kelsey Plymale, MaKenzie Sheils, Adeline Smith and Catey Kimble are senior ready to take the lead this season.

Cougar XC runners put in a lot of hard work throughout the summer and are excited for the season to begin. The returning senior girls and a talented group of junior boys look to finish even stronger than last season. Rounding out the team is a hard-working group of freshmen. Both teams have set individual and team goals for the season and are ready to train hard, be competitive, and compete with the best around the state. “Be on the lookout, as our goal is to be competitive at the State Meet,” said Coach Crago.

According to Coach Crago, Red Lodge (the defending state champs from 2021), Broadwater, and Manhattan look to be contenders on the girls’ side. On the boys’ side Bigfork (the defending state champs), Three Forks, and Lincoln County are teams to watch.

Coach Crago has created her personal coaching philosophy around her own experiences as a student athlete. “I am committed to creating an environment that encourages a positive team atmosphere with a commitment to excellence. Cross country takes self-motivation, determination, and mental toughness, said Crago.

The Cougar cross country team will be putting in time and hard work to produce the results they are seeking this season.

“Our XC teams are focusing on distance conditioning and learning how to pace themselves during a 5K race which will get the athletes mentally and physically ready to be competitive runners,” stated Cougar Head Coach Jennifer Crago.

The Cougar Cross Country teams begin their season Friday, Aug. 26 at a meet in Billings.

PARK CITY CROSS COUNTRY Although the Panther Cross Country team is small in number, three athletes at the high school level and three at the junior high level, they bring a highly competitive spirit to their competitions. Park City graduated two girls from last year’s 3rd place finishing team and will be unable to field a girls’ team this season. Returning athletes are senior Ryan Bal and senior Cadee Hess, and they add junior Zach Downing to round out the high school roster.

The Park City XC team will be competing under the tutelage of Coach Robert Russell who started the cross-country team for the Panthers and returns for his third season as head coach.

The Panthers hope to be competitive with any team from their Division this season. In local Class C competitions, their intentions are to be near the top. At the state level, the Panthers’ goal is to have the boys’ team in the top half of the competition.

“This is our first season with enough boys to score as a team, which is a really exciting opportunity,” said Coach Russell. “Zach Downing and Ryan Bal are looking to be very competitive at the Class C level. They are both leaders that will teach a lot to our younger athletes.”

This season the Panthers want to make the most of our upperclassmen’s remaining time with the program, while preparing the future generation of Park City runners.

“We have some great leaders on the high school team that can show the younger kids how to be successful in this sport. Having enough boys to compete as a team for the first time, the athletes get the chance to make some school history,” state Russell.

Because only half of the athletes on the XC team this season have any experience, the focus is on building a base for the athletes and increasing mileage. In the past, the XC and distance track athletes have been fairly low mileage, so building up to longer runs and more weekly mileage will really help the athletes be more competitive.

The Panthers begin their season at the Billings Invitational Meet at Amend Park on Friday, Aug. 26.