The Tyler Consolidated High School and Middle School cross country teams will begin their season on Saturday at their first meet of the year. The teams will travel to Belmont to take part in the large Autumn Classic meet, which almost always kicks off the season.
The Consolidated high school squads will consist of a complete team of eight girls with four on the boys team, just one short of a complete team.
"It's like this every year," said head coach of the Silver Knight cross country teams, Luke Reynolds. "We either have a full girls squad or a full boys squad, we can't ever seem to have both complete teams in one year."
Members of the Tyler Consolidated High School Lady Knight cross country team members are pictured above, left to right: Amanda Reynolds, Megan Sole, Marisa Gogan, Jahnvi Duncan, Demera Winfrey, and Kaylee Hulin. Not pictured is Amber Watson and Kenzie Bradfield.
Reynolds believes the reasoning behind this is the sport itself. "Sometimes it takes a year for a kid to figure out that this is not what they want. And that's okay. We haven't really lost anybody to football, or soccer, it's just cross country. That's the only explanation I have."
This season, however, the coach knows that the members of the high school girls team are there because they want to be. "Almost everyone of these girls are tried and true runners," he said. "They're either back from last year or joining the team fresh from the middle school team last year. And honestly, we're looking for good things from them this year."
Last year, the Lady Knights qualified one member of the team at the state meet and placed eighth in the Region I Regional, just out of qualifying the entire team for a state berth. With the loss of only two team members to graduation in Hannah Phillips and Kelly Rice, things look very promising for the team this year.
Junior Amber Watson returns as the premier runner on the team after placing fourth in the Region last year and competing at the state meet.
"Amber has improved every single year and I feel that this season will be no different."
Senior Marisa Gogan returns as the only senior, a quality member of the team and a known pace-setter for the others; Damara Winfrey, junior, is a returner; McKenzie Bradfield, sophomore, returns; and new to the group this season are freshmen: Megan Sole, Kaylee Hulin, Jahnvi Duncan, and Amanda Reynolds-every single one with good experience at several meets under their belts.
"I'm excited to watch this girls team this season," Reynolds said. "They have the potential to place in almost every competition we participate it. It's going to be a good year for them."
As for the high school boys, though they will be unable to garner team points for lack of numbers, they will be able to compete individually at meets. The Knights lost two strong members to graduation last year in Dylan Reynolds and Ryan Dalrymple, who will both be difficult to replace. Reynolds has qualified for state for the last two years for the Silver.
The four members of the team this year will be: sophomore Kamron Milhoan and freshmen Josh Frum, Luke Daugherty, and P.J. Wright.
"They may not be able to collect team points, but that doesn't mean these guys can't be competitive at every meet we attend," said the coach. "Kamron improved a lot last year, and these freshmen ran at the middle school level last year, so they know what they have to do to succeed.
"I think we're ready for the meet schedule to begin."
Tyler Consolidated Middle School
Tyler Consolidated Middle School has been able to field a cross country team for a couple of years now and the interest in the sport has not dwindled, but instead has grown and thrived.
Eleven girls and seven boys will participate on the team this season and from early indications, these youngsters are going to surprise people.
"They're all in great condition," coach Reynolds said. "They've worked hard but I think now they're getting a little bored with practice, they're are ready to run."
Members of the girls team are: Abigail Thompson, Mercedes Florez, Hannah Jackson, Victoria Hood, Katie Pratt, Abigail Ebert, Jordyn Henthorn, Kiera Winfrey, Megan VanDruff, Kelsie VanDruff, and Emma Paden.
Members of the boys team includes: Creed Ammons, Logan Jackson, Hadyn Brown, Destry Nelson, Spencer Corley, and Michael Smith.
All four cross country teams will take part in the huge Autumn Classic Meet held in Belmont on Saturday morning. This is a season starter for the majority of the teams in the area so fans are reminded to arrive early.