LFO cross coun­try teams look­ing for con­tin­ued growth

Walker County Messenger - - Sports - By Scott Herpst

Like their re­gion and county coun­ter­parts at the south end of High­way 2A, the LFO War­riors are in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion when it comes to cross coun­try in 2017.

The Red-and-White have solid num­bers on the boys’ side of the ledger and should be able to field a com­pet­i­tive squad. How­ever, low num­bers on the girls’ side will make things chal­leng­ing for third year head coach Michael Brown.

“We have a young team, with just three se­niors to­tal,” he said. “But it’s a group that has got­ten along re­ally well so far. They seem in­creas­ingly ded­i­cated, which is what I’m look­ing for. They are com­mit­ted to run­ning reg­u­larly, stay­ing in shape and prac­tic­ing in the off-sea­son.

“Ev­ery team, no mat­ter the sport, re­quires lead­er­ship or the team falls apart and that’s what we need from our se­niors and the three se­niors we have are the ones that at­tend the most prac­tices and give great ef­forts.”

For the War­riors, ju­nior Erik Martinez of­fers the best chance for LFO to win a re­gion ti­tle. Martinez has in­di­vid­u­ally qual­i­fied for the Class AAA state cham­pi­onships in each of his first two sea­sons. He placed 56th as a fresh­man in 2015 (19:39) and worked his way to 28th last year (18:03).

Martinez was fourth in last year’s 6-AAA meet at Coahulla Creek, clock­ing in at 17:44. Not only is he the War­riors’ high­est re­turn­ing fin­isher from that meet, he’s also the se­cond-high­est re­turn­ing fin­isher in the re­gion, along with 2016 re­gion run­ner-up Jesse Martinez (Mur­ray County), who ran a 16:49 a year ago.

“You have to start with Erik,” Brown said. “He’s our (top) con­tender for the re­gion. His goal should be to con­tin­u­ally im­prove and not be­come com­pla­cent.”

LFO is also count­ing on a pair of se­niors in Roc Ham­monds and Jack­son Moore. Ham­monds’ times are the se­cond fastest on the team thus far, while Moore is a team leader and a hard worker. Other name to know is ju­nior Bran­don Guz­man, who will be a top run­ner for the War­riors this sea­son.

“After that, there are about three or four guys and we re­ally want to see who will rise and be­come var­sity (run­ners),” Brown said.

On the girls’ side, LFO cur­rently has just four names on its ros­ter. Se­nior Kate Sher­rill is a first-year run­ner, but has made a solid im­pres­sion on Brown with her work ethic.

“She’s get­ting bet­ter

ev­ery prac­tice,” he said. “She’s re­ally be­ing a leader just by try­ing and be­ing an ex­am­ple.”

Ju­nior Sydney Moss, the LFO Ath­lete of the Month for Au­gust, is hop­ing to post solid time for the Lady War­riors this fall, hav­ing al­ready shaved three min­utes off her times from last year. The Lady War­riors are also count­ing on

sopho­more Lil­lian Mur­phy and big things are also hoped for from fresh­man Brook­lyn Carter, who is al­ready post­ing the fastest times among the Lady War­riors’ ros­ter.

“I think cross coun­try re­ally de­pends on those young run­ners to keep things go­ing,” Brown ex­plained. “We’re go­ing to de­pend

on (Brook­lyn) to get faster and I think she’ll be able to com­pete at re­gion. We only have a hand­ful of girls as it is, so we’re count­ing on all of them to com­pete.

“Last year at the re­gion meet, only about half the teams had full girls’ ros­ters, so our first goal is to build a full team. I’m de­pend­ing on all of them to get the

word out and to give that ef­fort be­cause it re­ally seems like we’re start­ing from scratch on that side.”

Brown added that a re­al­is­tic goal for the boys’ squad is a top six team fin­ish at the re­gion meet, but he hopes all of his re­turn­ing run­ners post faster times than they did a sea­son ago.

“We want ev­ery

run­ner that ran last year to im­prove their times and we want ev­ery­one to in­crease ev­ery sin­gle race through­out the sea­son,” he added. “I know that’s tough, but that’s the men­tal part of it, push­ing them­selves each week in or­der to con­stantly im­prove. We just have to work with what we have and keep im­prov­ing.”

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