THE JEFFERSON cross country teams enjoyed their run in Region 8-AA. But they will have to out-leg some new competition in Region 8-AAA this fall to get back to state.
Coach Katie Sellers puts the challenge into perspective.
“My philosophy from the beginning is that is that we’re just going out to run,” she said. “We will find our place. And I told them, it’s going to be very tough. Those top four spots going to state are going to be tough. Very tough.”
The boys’ team — last year’s Region 8-AA champions — will count on a trio of fleet-footed runners against tough Region 8-AAA teams like East Jackson and Oconee County.
Addison Cochran returns after finishing second in Region 8-AA last year with a time of 17:49, as does Alex Parrish, who was fifth with a time of 18:10. Joining the pack is Max Higgins, who missed a large part of last season due to injury. Higgins was, however, the Region 8-AA mile champion in track this spring with a time of 4:48.
Cochran welcomes the change in classification this year.
“Yeah, we moved up into three-A, so we have a lot more competition,” he said. “We’re looking forward to that.”
Parrish likes what he’s seen in the preseason so far.
“I think we can do really well as a team this year,” he said. “We’re looking pretty good.”
Cochran said it’s his goal to run under a 16:30 — national elite time — while Parrish aims to dip into the low 17s.
Meanwhile, other runners in the mix this year for the Dragons are Ian Byers, Jared Brown, Bruce Logue, Justin Harrison and Jonathan Nix.
“We’ll probably get a pretty good core group of five — and they’ll probably switch in positions — but that six and seven will be some new faces from week to week,” Sellers said.
On the girls’ side, the Lady Dragons, who finished as runners-up in Region 8-AA in 2013, will look to Morgan Mitchell, Region 8-AA’s fourth-place finisher last year with a time of 22:05. She’s joined by Sasha Parker, who finished sixth at region last year (22:21) and put in lots of miles this summer.
Kelsey Reschly and Aubrey Mitchell will also be in the mix. Basketball players Allison Patrick and Abbie Franklin have also joined the team.
Sellers is looking forward to see how the season unfolds for both squads.
“I’m just going to kind of sit back and watch it all fall into place,” she said. “And it will. It always does.”