Local cross country teams have high expectations as they enter the final stages of preparation for the 2019 campaign, and they’ll all kick off their seasons Aug. 20 in the Kentucky-Indiana Border Clash.
While Daviess County, Apollo and Owensboro Catholic will all look to veteran leadership in hopes of a strong postseason finish, Owensboro’s team is rebuilding with a small core of returning runners.
Last season, the Lady Panthers claimed both the City-County and the Class 3A Region 1 titles before a second-place finish at state, and they expect more of the same this year.
The E-Gals recorded a fourth-place finish at regionals to also claim a berth in the state meet. Apollo returns a tight top five that they are hoping will earn them a repeat trip.
The Lady Aces took second place at region and 11th place at the state meet a year ago. They return a strong group of seniors who will look for an even stronger finish to 2019.
The Red Devils lost several runners to graduation and will rely heavily on their youth, but are hopeful that hard work this summer will be evident in the coming season.
The Lady Panthers are entering the 2019 season with the hopes of securing their 13th consecutive region title. Daviess County is typically in the mix for a state championship, and head coach Mark Fortney does not expect this year to be any different.
“Team expectations are high,” Fortney said. “We have several key returners who had great track seasons and have had a great early season of training. This team will have a lot of depth.”
“Ainsley Taylor, E.A. Roberts and Emily Rempe will look to lead the pack for the Lady Panthers, while Destiny Miles, Avery Heath and Kyra Rowan have shown a lot of promise during the preseason.”
Offseason training is a big emphasis for the Lady Panthers. In instilling a sense of ownership in his team, Fortney is hopeful that they can compete on several large stages this season.
“What you’re doing when no one is watching is how you make strides toward your team goals,” he said. “A lot of offseason work has been accomplished this summer.”
In addition to big events in Memphis and Louisville, Daviess County will also head to Dayton, Ohio, for one of the most competitive meets in the Midwest before finishing the year at home in the Fast Cats Classic.
Head coach Audrey Sparks is hopeful that her team will continue to build on last year’s accomplishments. She enters the season with high expectations and is emphasizing commitment as the key to their success.
“To be successful, commitment is absolutely vital — mentally and physically,” she said. “They must push themselves and each other in both practice and meets all season.”
The E-Gals are also hopeful for an injury-free season, and many members of the team attended a week-long running camp this summer that could help out.
“The majority of the team attended an intense running camp this year for one week,” Sparks said. “They came away from this week with a greater understanding of aerobics, strength and conditioning, devotion to their sport, and health and nutrition.”
Sparks has toughened their schedule for 2019 with several out-of-state meets, something she hopes will pay dividends when they face stiff competition in the postseason. Additionally, she thinks the competitiveness within their team will make for some incredible practices.
“I’m still unsure who is going to be our lead runner this season, but I’m excited at how close my top five is running to each other,” she said. “Overall this is a great group of girls. They are kind, helpful, genuine and hard-working.”
The Lady Aces entering the 2019 campaign with a clear goal after missing out on a Class A Region 2 championship last season by a mere two points. They return a strong group of seniors that will look to use that as motivation out of the gate this season.
Head coach Jim Ivey is confident in his team’s offseason training and believes that the regional title is well within their reach.
“The girls have been training and putting in the miles this summer to be ready for the upcoming season,” he said. “It’s all about working together and bringing out the best in each other.”
Catholic is also hopeful for an injury-free season and will put a strong emphasis on teamwork.
Senior Alex Scheithe returns as their number one runner, finishing last season with a personal record and a sixth-place finish at the state meet.
Big meets on the Aces schedule include the season-opening Owensboro Border Clash and the City-County meet Oct. 1. Ivey said they hope to improve throughout the season and peak in the postseason.
“In all the years I’ve coached, I’ve taken the same approach,” Ivey said. “All meets leading up to the last two on our schedule are glorified practice.”
The Lady Devils are entering the season in a rebuilding mode. In addition to relying on sophomore Ashley Colburn for a breakout year, head coach Gary Mesplay is hopeful that his other runners will follow her lead in preparing for the upcoming season.
“I expect Ashley to have a good season. Ashley will be a sophomore and has been working hard this summer,” Mesplay said. “Her sisters Alondra and Claudette Villapando have been working hard to improve their running as well.”
With the school year now underway, Mesplay is hopeful that his roster will continue to grow. He looks to rely on his runners to recruit more athletes to come out and join the team.
“We are looking forward to the season opener to see where we are,” he said. “Cross country is growing at OHS, and I’m fortunate to get to coach a great group of kids.”
Owensboro will host the Border Clash on Aug. 20 in a meet that features some of the best talents from Kentucky and Indiana.
They are also set to host the Owensboro Invitational on Sept. 7 in an event for elementary, middle and high school teams.