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Looking for a big year… A move down in class has things looking up for EHS Cross Country

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
Cyclone cross country head coach Mark Newman has a reason to flash a big smile as the 2021 Cross Country calendar gets ready to begin.

Part of that comes from the runners that he has on the team and the other part comes from the fact that the Cyclones will be dropping down in class due to the TSSAA reclassification process.

“This year we are really excited,” Newman said. “We are moving down in the class again for the re-alignment so we are really looking to make some noise. Of course, we will have some of the large schools coming down but we have always been competitive with them.

“I think it’s going to be a really competitive season this year in the small school or actually A-AA class. I am hoping to get some of our guys qualified for state this year as well as some of the girls.”

Typically, a coach will look to their upperclassmen to be the leading force for a sport. However, that will not be the case for Newman who will be looking at a strong group of underclassmen to continue to make their mark early in their careers.

“My sophomores will actually be leading the way,” Newman added. “The senior, Isaac Norris, is just getting back into it this year. He took a year off. Some of my sophomores and some of my freshmen are stepping up to the plate big time so that’s good.”

With the reclassification taking away competition from schools the likes of Daniel Boone, Crockett, Science Hill, and Dobyns-Bennett, the Cyclones will have a little better time of being competitive even though there are enough schools that the Cyclones will be running against to provide plenty of competition.

“Tennessee High is coming down with us,” stated Newman. “Volunteer, Cherokee, East, and Greeneville are coming down and they have some tough runners as well so it’s going to be a challenge but I think that we will be ready to step up to the plate.”

Newman took a brief moment to review some of the runners who he will be looking to in showing the way for a strong year on the race course.

“My key runners right now is going to be Riley Vernon, Brian Presley, and Max Garner on the boy’s side. For the girls, Reaghan Curde is going to come run for us on the weekends from soccer. She is a hard runner from track – she just has grit in her.”

Cross country is a much different sport than football, basketball, and baseball. Newman was asked what the main key is when it comes to the sport of cross country.

“The key is just those that have a determination – those that get out there and just give me everything they have,” stated Newman. “It’s just a drive. You have to have a passion for the sport because if you don’t the sport will eat you up and spit you out.

“You have to love running. The thing we have to do is train during the summer and get that base under us so that way we are not racing to get into shape during the season.

“We want to come into the season ready to race so that is the biggest thing that we have to make sure that we do.”

The girls’ roster for EHS cross country this season includes Caitlin Darling, Curde, Brenann Vance, Lindy Simerly, Maggie Howland, and Grace Artz.

Running for the boys will be Cooper Chinault, Hayden Culbert, Garner, Jonah Hall, Hunter Horan, Norris, Collin Nidiffer, Presley, Vernon, Blake Bowman, Cooper Jack, John Brown. Kody Broussard, and Dylan Hughes.

The first action of the season will be the Pioneer Clash in Boone, NC on Saturday, August 21 beginning at 10 am.

One week later on Saturday, August 28th in Bristol, TN, the Run for the Hills event will take place at South Holston Dam.

Varsity girls will get underway at 8:30 am while the varsity boys hit the course at 9:15 am and the JV at 10 am.