By Melissa McCaghren
The Slaton Cross Country team has been running streets and other terrains practicing for the season.
Their goal: to improve on last year’s achievements, which included three individuals advancing to the State meet.
Head Coach Landon Sims said their strive to get to that goal has been showing in the strong practices they’ve had so far. “Our boys are very focused and determined to repeat the district championship from last year,” he said.
“The girl’s goal is to get back to the Regional meet. Mary Jo Parker would like to qualify for State four years in a row which is a rare feat.”
Returning for the boys team this year are Senior Zach Gonzales and sophomores Elijah Culver, Ishmal Gonzales, Isaiah Chapa, Aungel Lopez and Ivan Venzor. Ty Kinch was the lone graduate from last year’s team and competed last year at State.
On the girl’s team, returning are Senior Parker, then Kat Castillo and Emily Herrera. They lost State qualifier Alice Cogburn to graduation.
Sims added they have gained four new runners this year, three freshmen and one junior.
Sims said COVID regulations are in place per University Interscholastic League guidelines, though for running they are a little bit different. “The runners are required to wear masks; however, they are not required to wear masks when working out,” he said. “We put the runners in alternate lanes to ensure social distance when warming up. For purposes of hydration, the runners are bringing their own water bottles.”
Sims had their schedule originally planned out in June. That said, UIL has since changed dates twice due to the ongoing pandemic. These are primarily for Regional and State Meets.
Sims said this along with other current regulations will affect the season slightly. “UIL will not allow more than eight schools on site at time for meet, so we are having to go in groups at specific meets,” he said. “As of right now Mae Simmons Park, (the) District and Regional site, is not allowing spectators.
“UIL (also) has changed the number of teams that advance to each level two out of District, three to state, due to Covid 19,” Sims added.
There five teams in Slaton’s District, it, Brownfield, Shallowater, Denver City, Lamesa and Kermit.
That said, Sims is looking forward to the season for his team. “Our first meet will not be in Wednesday, Sept. 2 in Roosevelt, so we have been using August to train and build base for the season,” he said. “This is a great group of kids (and I’m) excited to see what they do this season.”