Maybe it was to help recently graduated teammate Alex Dukes prepare for his first season with the cross country and track programs at Columbia College or perhaps there were other motivating factors at play, but the Mexico cross country team was meeting up every Wednesday morning this summer.
To say these young Bulldogs were simply up doesn't do them justice. They were literally meeting with head coach John Wilbers at 6 a.m. and running at that same day and time every week in addition to what they were doing on their own in an effort to prepare for the 2018-19 season. Now that it's almost here those who have had an inside look at what this squad has been doing during the offseason know what lies ahead for these athletes could very well carry them further than any season past.
The only question now is exactly how far this team can advance and how well it can finish.
"This summer we had a lot of kids put in over 200 miles of running. We are excited for our first home meet Saturday Aug. 25th at Green Estates," said assistant coach Lucas Brennaman. "We look for our team captains (Rosanna McKeown, Tom Calaluce, and Gage Worley) to be leaders both in workouts and in races. Our focus this season is to peak late, make a run at the NCMC championship, finish in the top two at districts as a team and send as many athletes as possible to the state meet in November."
The other athlete the Bulldogs lost to the college ranks was Tyler Brandow. On top of that Marquis Smith and Shannon Stice graduated, as well, which, while costly, if nothing else, opens several spots for the healthy number of returning athletes head coach Buck Green and his staff will be working with this year.
"We have a lot of work to do, but have a motivated group of kids that have been working hard. If they stay disciplined, push one another, and trust in the training I believe great things will happen this season," Brennaman said. "The boys and girls teams are in a position where pack running (meaning running as a group throughout the 5k race) will be key. If we are able to keep our 1-5 runners close to one another I believe we will have a lot of success this season on both sides."
Just like most sports, Mexico cross country doesn't have much of a budget that would allow Green to build a staff with. That's why he's so incredibly fortunate to have the help of volunteer assistants Keith Jennings and Zach Glassmaker.
"We had a lot of runners put in quality miles and I am excited to see how our top seven shake out," said Brennaman. "In Cross Country we base our varsity line up off of our team time trial, which we are planning to do this coming Saturday, Aug 18th."
MEXICO VARSITY CROSS COUNTRY SCHEDULE 2018
DATE OPPONENT LOCATION TIME
8-25 Mexico Invitational Green Estates 9:00 a.m.
9-8 Forest Park Invitational St. Louis 9:00 a.m.
9-15 Fulton Invitational Fulton 9:00 a.m.
9-22 Hancock Invitational St. Louis 9:00 a.m.
9-27 Moberly Invitational Moberly 4:00 p.m.
9-29 Camdenton Invitational Camdenton 9:00 a.m.
10-9 Centralia Invitational Centralia 4:00 p.m.
10-13 NC Missouri Conference Mexico 10:00 am.
10-16 Autumn Classic Green Estates 4:00 p.m.
10-19 Bowling Green Invitational Bowling Green 4:00 p.m.
10-27 Districts TBA 9:00 a.m.
11-3 MSHSAA Championships Oak Hills 9:00 a.m.