Teams prepare to open season at Battle of Wilco Park XC Relays
By Lance Catchings
The Liberty Hill cross country teams begin the long road back to state this Friday with the first meet of the season.
The teams will compete at the Battle of Wilco Park XC Relays hosted by Leander High School. Head Coach Kim Holt is excited to get her runners back on the course and see what they can do. The first couple of weeks of practice have gone well and cross-country interest is as high as it’s ever been in her time as head coach.
“I feel like the kids have come out and done a good job,” Holt said. “We have lots of kids out participating this year with almost 30 boys and 30 girls. Last year we had around 45 kids, which is the lowest we had been since they added soccer in. This is the most we have had out and it is a lot of younger kids. The school is getting bigger and we had a lot of kids come out, which is a great thing for us.”
With more runners out at practice, the competition level has stepped up. Holt will put the best runners on varsity so every day is an opportunity for runners to prove themselves.
“We have lots of competition and they want to earn those spots on varsity, which helps the program be more competitive,” she said.
“We had a time trial last Thursday and we had some newbies up front that weren’t there last year. We did a long run Monday morning and it went well. We had kids running further than they did last year at this time.”
The competition ante is also upped by runners who took summer conditioning seriously. The Coach has been happy with some of her returning runners and the shape they came back in from summer break.
“There are a few seniors that we have this year that have come back and I am impressed with them,” she said.
“I talked to them at the end of the year last season and told them they would need to be leaders and they really ran over the summer. I also have a junior that ran over the summer and he has been running in our top five. Many of our girls spent the summer at running camps and they look pretty good right now. I think the younger runners coming in and pushing our pace really helps. Some of the older kids that were on varsity last year in the top seven may be running around 10th or 12th now. They can see the other athletes up there and they really want to be a member of that varsity team once we advance past district. It helps the program, its good for the team and it pushes the kids to do better. Competition helps everyone stay motivated to compete for those spots.”
Friday, the Wilco Park Relays are set up different than a traditional meet. At this meet the teams will be split in pairs and running a two-mile relay race. Holt said it is a great audition for the meet to follow the week after.
“The first meet is a little different because it is set up like a relay race,” she said.
“I will be looking at individual times this week because next week at Vista Ridge will be a regular meet. They are competing this meet for a spot on that varsity team at the Vista Ridge meet. Based on the time trials they will move up or down.”
Junior cross country runner Gabe Diaz said he has been excited about the pace of practice and the younger runners pushing the returners to work harder. At the meet in Leander, he is looking forward to pushing himself against great competition.
“I feel like this team will be even stronger than last year’s team,” he said.
“We have quite a few seniors and juniors this year as well as some new freshmen that are helping push the pack. Practices have gone well, and everyone wants to improve and do better.
“The Leander course is very flat, but they always have plenty of fast runners. They are in a higher division so there will be a lot of 6A and 5A schools there,” Diaz said. “We will be going against some tough competition for our first meet. I want to push with the fast groups in these higher divisions. I want to see who on our team will step up and this meet is an opportunity to see who wants it. The goal is to get to state so we need the mentality to work harder every day to reach that goal.”