Wesley takes over Natchez cross country

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 9, 2001

The Natchez High cross country team will experience a change of scenery in more ways than one this 2001 season.

First, the small stuff. The Bulldogs’ district opponents have changed. Instead of Forest Hills, Forest and Jim Hill, Natchez will run against Meridian, Wayne County and Brandon.

Second, the big change. After years of guiding the Natchez cross country and track teams, Henry &uot;Doc&uot; Woods retired last week. New coach Larry Wesley, a former Natchez High track star and professional sprinter, has been handed the reins of one of the most successful track programs in the state. And now, he’s looking to make the boys and girls cross country teams one of the best in the state.

&uot;To run track here and have the success that I had, and then to come back and (coach) it, that’s a great feeling,&uot; said Wesley. &uot;I’m just overjoyed to be here.&uot;

Wesley has been a teacher in the Natchez-Adams School District for the past three years, guiding the junior high football and basketball teams. Before that, he helped out sparingly as a track volunteer.

Wesley has set up a nice travel schedule for Natchez, with the team travelling to Warren Central and Mississippi College for meets and Alcorn State for two invitationals. Natchez will host an invite as well.

Seniors Clint Johnson and Natalie Nobel are the leading returnees for the boys and girls sides. &uot;I’m expecting big things from the boys’ and girls’ programs,&uot; Wilson said.

Wesley said he expects about 13-14 boys to be on the team and about 10-11 girls. He’s looking for more runners and hopes to get them with school starting today.

The change in district opponents will test the Bulldogs. Meridian, Wayne county and Brandon are bigger and more competitive schools than last year’s district foes, Wesley said.

&uot;With the talent I’ve seen here and worked with myself, we’ll be close,&uot; Wesley said. &uot;If we aren’t, I’ll be surprised.&uot;

Natchez’s first practice is Aug. 15. Practice meets will be held Aug. 23 and 30. The Bulldogs first meet is Sept. 8 at Warren Central.

&160;

&160;

&160;

Wesley hopes the Mississippi College meet will help out laer in the year: the district meet and the state championship is being held there.

While track is his specialty, as it is for most of the athletes on the cross country team, Wesley is looking forward to the challenge of getting the program on the same level as the track program.