The Prairie Home Panthers cross country team is working on improving this season.
Head coach Marie Pope said the runners are excited to be able to run this season, especially after the track season was canceled this spring.
"I think the kids are just excited to be able to have a season," Pope said. "With COVID-19, being able to compete in cross country brings back some semblance of normalcy. All five of my kids worked hard last spring in track only to be cut short, so they are ready to go this season."
This year's team has plenty of experience.
"I have one freshman this year, Landon Case, who is still learning the ropes, but shows a lot of potential and eagerness to grow," she said. "My other four athletes have at least one season under their belts. They know what to expect and already have personal goals for their season."
The team has only had a week of practices so far, and Pope said it is still working on getting into shape and building endurance. Once the athletes have done that, she said they will be working on adding speed to that endurance.
Everyone on the team will have a big impact this year, Pope said.
"All five of my runners will have a big impact this year," Pope said. "That's a perk of having a small team. This is Allen Haslag's last season. He has grown so much in the four years I've coached him. For the first two years of his cross country career, he was my sole runner, which gave him a huge mental advantage. Getting up every day and running by yourself makes an athlete tough. These last two seasons, he's had teammates to run with and really been able to push through tough practices and races and be a leader for his teammates. Savanna Tracy is my only female runner, but she pushes the boys every day in practice. She's competitive with the boys and is going to have a very strong season because of that."
Preston Scheidt and Will Wright are both starting their second season," she said. "Will Wright is such a consistent runner. Hard days or easy days, he does not complain and does not falter. Preston Scheidt has already made remarkable improvements from last season. He's much stronger, more comfortable, and more confident running long distances. Landon Case is my sole freshman, and he has already proven he's more than willing to learn, grow and work hard this season. I'm excited to see how he improves as he gets used to a new sport."
As the season goes on, Pope said she would like to see the runners continue to grow stronger, physically and mentally.
"Cross country is a mental sport. Coaches talk a lot about 'getting in shape,' and we usually mean physical shape," Pope said. "Cross country season is the perfect time to push boundaries and learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Both skills will help these athletes in their future sports seasons and life beyond that."
Prairie Home cross country schedule:
Sept. 1 - TBA, at Salisbury 3500
Sept. 5 - TBA, at Mexico
Sept. 12 - TBA, at Father Tolton
Sept. 22 - 4 p.m., at Boonville at Kemper Park
Oct. 3 - TBA, at Calvary Lutheran at Binder Park
Oct. 10 - 9 a.m., at Russellville
Oct. 13 - TBA, at Centralia
Oct. 19 - TBA, at Salisbury
Oct. 31 - TBA, at Districts