Last warm up: Cross country teams use meet to prep for postseason

Published 12:02 am Friday, October 19, 2012

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez High School sophomore Daryl Jones, left, and Cathedral School senior Sam Fury, center, lead the front pack down the final stretch of the 3-mile race. Jones and Fury crossed the finish line in first and second place, respectively.

NATCHEZ — Several local cross country teams needed some work, so they all decided to do it together.

Natchez High School, Cathedral High School and Adams County Christian School are all gearing up for postseason meets. With a track and trace available, NHS hosted a practice meet for the three schools to run their athletes.

Athletes from all three schools ran one lap around the track before heading to the Natchez Trace, then back around onto the track to finish the meet. The boys and girls ran separately.

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Adams County Christian School’s Tory Rollins, left, and Mackenzie Boyd, right, keep pace together as they run the beginning of the 2-mile course Thursday afternoon during a practice meet between ACCS, Natchez High School and Cathedral School at Natchez.

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The practice meet came at an opportune time for NHS, which heads to its divisional meet Oct. 30 before wrapping things up at the state meet Nov. 3.

NHS track coach Larry Wesley said his athletes have had to overcome several cancelations this season.

“One was canceled because of (Tropical Storm Isaac), one night they were expecting bad weather at Mississippi College and another night they had some poles down on the track, so that killed that,” Wesley said.

Wesley also said he was glad to be able to host two local schools and help promote cross country in the Natchez area.

“Due to the weather, no one’s been able to run too many meets, so this just gives the kids a chance to compete against someone other than themselves,” Wesley said.

CHS track coach Tommy Smith said his team was preparing for the state track meet Nov. 10. Smith has submitted his athletes in bigger meets than usual in an effort to try to expose them to better competition.

“We sacrificed a lot of the smaller meets to work on raising the bar a little,” Smith said. “That may have hurt us overall season-wise, but I think it’ll pay off at the state meet.”

Smith said he feels good about his team going into state, especially his boys.

“The guys are running really strong,” Smith said. “They’re really starting to gel and learn the game. I feel like they’ll have a little bit of a breakthrough.”

ACCS has a cross country program again after a two-year hiatus, and head coach Dee Ray said former ACCS headmaster Buddy Wade challenged her to restart the program. The team will compete in the MAIS overall meet Monday.

“Buddy Wade said he wanted the cross country program to start back up, so it was a big deal to me to follow his wishes,” Ray said.

There are no varsity runners for ACCS’s track team, and all but two of them are girls.

“The girls have been doing really well,” Ray said. “We’ve been competing in meets with over 200 runners, and two of our runners, Mackenzie Boyd and Tory Rollins, have been placing in the top 15 every time. They all have a lot of heart.”

Both Ray and Smith said it was good for their athletes to compete against a bigger school, even if it was just for practice.

“We’re just trying to help promote the local cross country scene,” Smith said. “Maybe we can get all four schools out here next year.”

Like the other two coaches, Wesley said he’s eagerly anticipating the postseason meets.

“We feel good, especially with the girls,” Wesley said. “The boys are a work in progress.”