The Whiteoak High School Wildcats cross country team got their season underway on August 23 when they traveled to Greenfield to participate in the McClain Opener at Mitchell Park. The Wildcats will travel to Leesburg on September 19 to take part in the Highland County Meet at Fairfield High School. Whiteoak will end their regular season with a home meet on October 4.
The Wildcats boys and girls cross country teams opened the cross country season with much to prove in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference (SHAC). The Wildcats wrapped up the 2016 season with disappointing seventh place finishes in the SHAC finals.
The boys team returns six juniors from last seasons’ team and the girls return one junior after the graduation of the other members of the 2016 squad.
Wildcats coach Doug Hughes told The Times-Gazette, “The main boys in the junior class are Hunter Morgan, Atlee Carr, and Zach Deatley. Those three have been going at it. They are our top three runners, I expect them to lead and to do things well. If we go anywhere those three are going to have to take us there.”
When it comes to the girls team coach Hughes said, “Katie is a very hard worker. When she is here you never have to question her effort. When she is done with a meet you can see that she has given it her all. The other girls will see that and they will pick up on that.”
When it comes to goals for the season Hughes is trying to keep it simple saying, “My goals are always the same. We always want to peak at the end of the year. We don’t want to be our best in the early part of the season. We want to be our best come league meet time and the post season. We have to stay healthy, we have to be smart, and I have to keep it fun for the kids. We are going to work hard and have fun.”
Hughes has been the coach of the cross-country team at Whiteoak for 14 years and feels he possesses a unique advantage over other coaches in the area. Hughes said, “I have these kids from kindergarten through sixth grade in elementary P.E. We do a lot of running, I know what these kids can do and I know how to motivate these kids. I feel that I have that part of it down.”
The unique position that Hughes holds at Whiteoak gives him the opportunity to see the athletes throughout their entire school age career. Hughes said, “That is the best part of my job. I get to see the kids when they come in at age five. I get to see them grow, help them grow, and watch them grow. They grow by leaps and bounds. It is very rewarding to watch the kids advance at their own pace. It is very rewarding to watch that process take place.”
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.