PANTHER cross country coach Joseph Brubaker is intent on continuing a culture of training and racing at Jackson County Comprehensive High School.
Last year, the JCCHS girls’ team made their fifth straight trip to state (finishing 11th), while the boys team fell just shy at region competition. This season, Brubaker hopes to qualify both teams regardless of the fact that they compete in the highly competitive 8-AAA regions.
Brubaker is hoping strong senior leadership will give his teams the motivation they need to compete at a high level.
“It is a grind of a season so good leadership is essential for a enjoyable one,” Brubaker said. “We need to keep building our program to expect success and build our mileage over the summer to avoid injuries and be ready for August. (The girls) have had continued success, which is nice, but we have to fight against complacency. Our seniors all bring elements that help our team be successful. I hope we all continue to come together to become a team that encourages and builds up one another.”
On the boys’ side, JCCHS returns four runners including; J.T. Wood, Zack Sears, Jake Dearman and Cory Ramey. Brubaker also expects freshmen standouts Tyler Rutledge and Oscar Ponce to contribute this year.
On the girls’ side, the Lady Panthers will return Maddie Newton, Monika Jimenez, Savannah Shaw, Allison Freeman, Kourtney Axelberg, Nikki Fowler, Brooke Bullock. Brubaker expects freshmen Megan Kral, Morgan Davidson and Andrea Menchacha could provide serious support for the varsity squad.
Brubaker said his goal for the boys’ team is to get five guys to clock under 18:30. His goal for the girls’ squad is to get back in to at least second place in the region and to make the top-10 at state.
But before the Panthers get there, Brubaker just wants to continue to whip his teams in to shape.
“We have to build our miles and start with our workouts,” Brubaker said. “We are just focusing on getting in as many miles as we can. Some of us have only had two weeks to get ready for our first race.”
NEGA Cross Country Championships
The Panther cross country teams got their first taste of action last Saturday at Athens Christian in the Northeast Georgia Cross Country Championships.
The boys placed 19th out of the 20 teams at the event. The team was led by Oscar Ponce (112th) with a time of 20:05 and Zack Sears (126th) with a time of 20:28.
The girls placed 13th out of 15 teams. Maddie Newton led the Lady Panthers (34th) with a time of 22:17, and was followed by Monica Jimenez (57th, 23:20) and Allison Freeman (64th, 23:52)
Jackson County will compete in the Eagle Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Lamar Murphy Park in Jefferson.
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