By all accounts, Russellville's cross country athletes could say they had a successful season this year, after getting to compete in one of the biggest meets of the season.
The season ended on Nov. 5 with a trip to the state meet for the Russellville Indians boys and girls cross country teams. The boys finished in 15th place in the Class 2 state race and the girls finished in eighth place.
Indians head coach Zach Bryant said it was exciting both teams got to make it to the state meet together.
"It's always exciting to take a team, but getting to have both groups there made it even better. The kids are close and really support each other," Bryant said.
For the season as a whole, Bryant said it was one of the best seasons for the girls team in his time coaching the Indians. The boys team had a more up and down season, Bryant said.
"This, by far, was one of the best seasons I have ever had on the girls team," Bryant said. "They have won more races for me this year than I had in the previous six years coaching combined. The boys had an up and down season, but they came together at districts and beat who we needed to to make it to state."
For the runners who will be back next season, Bryant said they can learn how offseason work can benefit them. The team will also be more familiar with the course for the state meet the next time it runs there.
"I think they can see that those that put in the work in the offseason really do benefit from it," Bryant said. "And it all boils down to who shows up to compete that day of the race. Campbell Nicholes was the only runner to have ran at Gans Creek where the championship was held, and now both teams know what to expect the next time they are there."
Getting to state was a huge confidence boost for both teams, Bryant said; the team can try to build off of the success it had this season using that positive momentum.
"I think getting to state was a huge confidence boost for both teams," Bryant said. "And just seeing what it's all about. On the girls side alone, we have four of seven (runners) that never have ran cross country before this year. Those newcomers now have a greater understanding and will build this team for years to come. It will be sad to see our seniors go, but we have runners coming up the ranks to try and fill those important roles."