There’s going the extra mile. Then, there’s what the Jefferson cross country program did in the offseason.
The Dragons and Lady Dragons’ intensive summer training included running a half marathon on the final day of offseason workouts.
In fact, 13 runners completed the 13.1-mile course designed by coach Katie Sellers.
“I was very proud of them,” Sellers said. “I had some tears afterwards … we’re talking 13-and-14-year-olds (running) their first race like that, so it was a big accomplishment.”
Sellers described it as a demanding but essential part of summer workouts for a program trying to maintain its top 10 status in Class AA.
“It was very grueling but they hung in there because they know,” Seller said. “They saw the results last summer, especially my returners. They knew that summer is the most important part of the whole season.”
Both teams have a tough act to follow after last year.
Jefferson finished 6th in Class AA on the boys’ side in 2011 and 10th on the girls’ side in what was a banner year for the school in distance running.
Preseason prognosticators call for an even stronger season out of the Dragon and Lady Dragon runners.
The Jefferson boys are ranked no. 4 in the Class AA preseason poll, while the girls are 7th. The goal for both teams is easily defined: get to state.
Jefferson lost its top two boys’ runners from last year and will look to sophomore Cain Lorenzo to lead the pack. Lorenzo ran an 18:48 at state last year.
“He’s going to get in the 17’s, I have a pretty good feeling, before the season is over.”
Other runners include Josh Reid, Bruce Logue and Charis Warnock.
For the girls, standout runner Reese Bowles, a junior, is back after finishing 20th in Class AA last year with a time of 21:00.
“Reese, I’m hoping is going to go sub-20 easily,” Sellers said.
Sasha Parker, who ran a 23:42 at state last year, has come on strong in preseason workouts. Sellers also expects freshman Morgan Mitchell to compete for the third spot in the girls’ lineup. Sophomore Olivia Yates, junior Kaylynn Rainey and freshman Kelsey Reschly will round out the lineup.
This year marks a major change with the region as five teams left 8-AA after realignment.
But Jefferson’s schedule is full of events that will pit the Dragons and Lady Dragons against many of the teams from the old 8-AA that went to 8-AAA.
“I want to run with those teams that we left and that left us behind so that we can keep the competitive edge,” Sellers said.
This is also a season of change in the coaching ranks. Sellers split duties last year with Allen Thompson. But with Thompson now coaching football, Sellers — a former track runner in high school — is now the overseer of the program.
Sellers is looking forward to a new season.
“I love these kids and I love the sport,” Sellers said. “I think it will be fine.”