BY PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON — The Lady Rams cross country team will have a wealth of youth entering the season.
Of the the seven runners on the team this year, four are freshmen and one is a sophomore who is a newcomer to the sport.
The Lady Rams do return sectional qualifiers Zoe Mattingly and Camilla Bauer back to the squad. Coach Connie Harre-Blair said she looks to the senior Mattingly for leadership, guiding the young team this season.
“I'm looking toward her using her leadership because she has been through the meets for three years now,” Harre-Blair said. “And she has done a very good job in regards to how to do certain items and different drills. I'm hoping that can just continue on. It really helps out when the cross country runner can show what's going on.”
Alexis Kehrer joins the team as a sophomore. The Lady Rams freshmen are Kate Bushue (Summersville), Shayln Crane (Field), Makayla Moore (Field) and Kira Young (Opdyke). Harre-Blair said transitioning the freshmen into the varsity competition is a big adjustment.
“We didn't do as much as we would normally do, if they were juniors and seniors, putting that many miles on their legs,” Harre-Blair said. “We just tried to get them acclimated to what we were doing.”
The girls cross country squad, like the boys, will be without a home meet this season after the school couldn't gather enough teams for its invitational.
“It's disappointing not to have it, but when we had a couple other schools that flagged off on their own … so we lost those teams that we were always getting,” Harre-Blair said.
The Lady Rams spent the summer working in a variety of different areas. The summer activities included longer runs of multiple miles, shorter runs and also hurdle work for additional flexibility and strengthening the runners hip area.
“We had a good summer, had good summer weather,” Harre-Blair said. “It made it nice in regard to introducing the different concepts of our practices.”
Mt. Vernon opens the season at Murphysboro on Sept. 4.