The Fairfield High School Lions coed cross country team opened their season on August 23 when they traveled to Mitchell Park in Greenfield to take part in the McClain Tigers meet. The Lions will visit Hillsboro on Saturday September 2 and will host the Highland County Invitational on Tuesday September 19. Fairfield will close their season on the road when they travel to Chillicothe to take on Unioto October 7.
The Lions lose three seniors from a 2016 team that finished fourth in the DIII state tournament. This season the Lions will have three seniors on the team with Matthew Mangus, Noah Richmond, and Andrew Davis expected to lead the team. The team will be coached by Raymond Friend who is returning for year number 17 with the Lions.
Friend is excited for the season despite the loss of three runners from last season’s team. “There is a chance we could be better than we were last year. After seeing how well the kids were in shape when they came into practices, if they keep pushing themselves, we could be better.”, Friend said.
“We are going to have some runners that will be in our top seven this year that were not there last year. So, we have got to make sure we know how to race. Racing is important, you can put all the miles in you want but, if you don’t learn how to run a good smart race it won’t matter. We can definitely improve on that this year.”, said Friend.
Raymond has high hopes for the young runners on the team this year, “Several of the runners that were not in the top seven last year have really stepped up their game this year. They have put in the work over the summer to get better and you can really see that improvement early in the season. There is great competition on this squad and we really don’t know who is going to be in the top seven when the end of the season gets here.”
Friend has seen it all over his 17-year cross country coaching career at Fairfield but, he is most impressed by the effort he has seen from the team over the last several years. “I have been on the side where I don’t have a top seven where it’s not competitive and it is so hard to motivate them. What makes it so much easier now is, I do not have to be constantly on them. I know they are going to put a good workout in because they have set their own goals. That has really helped.”
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.