Picayune cross country preparing for fourth meet

Published 7:00 am Friday, September 13, 2019

The cross country squad is nearly a third of the way through the season, and the performances have been exactly what Head Coach Chris Wise expected.

The team includes athletes from the high school and junior high, and Wise uses the races early in the year as a way for athletes to improve their endurance.

The point in the season when the runners need to be doing their best is when the regional and state races are approaching, and Wise said that his athletes would be ready.

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“I think they performed well at this point of the season,” Wise said.

“And I think they’re set to peak in October when I want them to peak.”

The athletes start racing in August and don’t stop until early November.

The length of the season means that the runners have to constantly improve if they want to be competitive during the state meet.

Wise has seen improvement from his athletes, and he’s hoping the workouts the runners go through will continue that positive trend.

“They’re endurance is coming up, their speed is coming up,” Wise said.

“It’s a long season that starts off really hot, but I think we’re doing well.”

The team is led by senior Mason Watkins, and Wise said that Watkins’ performances mirror the hard work all of the athletes are putting into their running.

“He’s won the last two races, and I think that’s a reflection of what everybody is doing,” Wise said.

“Their improving dramatically as they get into the peak of the season.”

Wise said senior Braxton Hatten and junior Georgia Patton have also improved significantly while middle schoolers Ajay Kolaprath, Ian Herring and Mary Thompson have all stepped up for the junior high team.

In practice, the athletes are working on their endurance and being able to pace themselves mile after mile.

In cross country, the first five runners who cross the finish line determine the team score.

Watkins winning the race helps the team tremendously, but Wise is hoping that he can get the other runners to improve their places as well to better the overall score.

“I do think they’re coming along nicely,” Wise said.

“October looks bright.”

The next test for the squad will be the Olan Welch Classic in Long Beach, on Sept. 14.

The race will be on a new course, and Wise said that would be exciting for his athletes to run on a course they haven’t seen before.

Wise has high expectations for the race, and said that Watkins has a good chance of winning again.

As a team he’s hoping the squad finishes in the top five at the very minimum.

Wise has seen the work ethic his athletes have, and no matter how they place he said he’d be happy either way.

“I’m very proud of the kids who have been showing up,” Wise said.

“They’re great kids and are trying hard. It’s a good family atmosphere.”