By Chuck Reherman
Yukon’s cross country team opens the season ‘for real’ Friday, competing in their first meet of 2019.
YHS will compete In the Putnam City North Invitational at Route 66 Park. The Park is located at Lake Overholser.
The YHS teams have not competed since the Yukon-Mustang Dual on Aug. 27.
The meet will be a 5-kilometer run and both YHS head coaches Matt Parent and Rod Zimmerman are ready to see what their teams can do over the 3.5-mile long distance.
“While we would love to win a meet, that really isn’t our primary focus,” Parent said. “This will be our first 5K, so we are looking for a good starting point. We are a very young, inexperienced group, so just gaining the experience of bumping up to a 5K for some will be extremely valuable.
“Hopefully, we will have several in the mid to low 18’s,” Parent said. “This will give us the starting point we need to build on for the rest of the year.”
The Millers are young. A pair of freshmen are their top two runners going into the meet. The Millers will have only one senior running on the varsity for this first meet and four of the top seven will be freshmen and sophomores.
“Right now, we are led by a couple freshmen, Max Marler and Coy Pope,” Parent said. “Also, a pair of sophomores, Eli George and Tyler Birmingham are near the top as well. A pair of juniors, Cade Pope and Aron Tahdooahnippah and a senior, Kyle Crow round out the varsity group for this meet.
“Cade has been our team leader,” he said. “Because of his deep aerobic base, he should have an advantage in this race compared to the earlier two-mile races. He should move up the pecking order now that we are running longer.
“This year, while we are short on experience, we do not lack on drive. I’ve been very impressed with so many of our guys work ethic. Freshmen, Austin Miller and Hayden Griffen, sophomore Jonah Hanscom, junior Caleb Ankrom, and seniors Seth Cortez and Chris Gerber all are just seconds away from cracking into the top 7. Things will definitely change over the next few weeks. We have a lot of competition for spots, but that will make us better.”
The Millerettes will come into the meet with a little more experience, but will still field a young group.
YHS returns junior Elora Jones and sophomore Avery Stanley, who were the top two runners on the varsity last year and had a solid performance in the opening dual with Mustang, finishing fourth and second respectively.
“I am excited to start running 5k’s,” Zimmerman said. “Being a young team we have several that if they have ran a 5K race before haven’t experienced a 5k cross country race. They are a little different. I think the 5k distance is going to be a good distance for most of our girls to race at but there will be some learning these next few weeks on how to race it.
“I think Elora and Avery are good leaders for that and with the help of our staff the younger girls will learn how to run it and we will do well over the course of the year,” he said. The main thing we are looking for Friday is for them to go out and set a good pace and finish the race, just run as solid a race as they can and we will work from there.”
Zimmerman will have several freshmen in his line-up for the varsity. Rena Henson finished the Mustang dual third on the Millerette team. Harper Barlow, Lydia Laverty and Emily Schneider were all in the top seven.