Hurst L.D. Bell cross-country coach Gerald Smith has a simple strategy for his runners throughout the summer.
“Run,” he said with emphasis. “There is no replacement for putting in the training over the summer. If you slack off in the summer, you will spend the majority of your season catching up to those who didn’t, and experience says you aren’t going to catch up to most of them since they are moving forward.”
Practices got underway recently for the 2016 season. The Blue Raiders were expecting about five boys and five girls who had varsity experience back.
However, none qualified for regionals last season. Lone qualifier Araya Fetters has graduated.
The top returning boys include seniors Colton Sizemore and Liam Leonard, along with juniors Anthony Gregory, Carlos Elizondo and Isaac Vasquez. The top returning girls include juniors Brooklyn Fortier and Madelynn Plauche, along with sophomores Haven Sizemore, Kennedy Manning and Veronica Santos.
The Raiders’ first meet is Aug. 26 at the Cowtown Challenge, hosted by Haltom High. It will feature only athletes who participated in at least eight workouts during August.
It is one of three meets they will run on the Buff, Haltom’s home course. They will return for the Metroplex Challenge on Sept. 22 and the District 5-6A Warmup on Oct. 13.
The first all-inclusive meet is Sept. 2 at Burleson. District is Oct. 22 at North Lakes Park in Denton.
Smith said there are several subvarsity runners from last season who could make an impact on the varsity this season. They include Zach Muhammad, Trey McGovern and Devin Grubbs on the boys side, along with girls Renata Cardoza, Giselle Otero and Rocio Rodriguez.
Bell is moving into a new district this season, 5-6A. Smith noted that it is arguably one of the toughest in the state.
“You are going to have quality teams that can finish in the top 10 spots in the region not make it out of our district,” he said. “Teams to beat — you can literally just go through the district schools — Carroll, Marcus, Flower Mound, Hebron, Byron Nelson are all traditional powers.”
That said, Smith is anxious for his team to get the 2016 season underway.
“I’m looking forward to seeing our kids work hard and see how willing they are to meet the demands and challenge of this new district,” he said.