Cross country teams excited over season

LEROY - Pine River coach Alyssa Crouch is confident her Pine River cross country team is ready to go.

"We did two days of conditioning to get the kids together and gave them an idea of what they should be doing to prepare for practice," she said. "Otherwise, they've been running on their own this summer."

The Bucks and other cross country teams will start official practices on Aug. 12. The seasons will start later this month.

Crouch anticipates having 20 runners on her roster this season.

She's planning on starting out with evening runs because of the heat.

a major stipulation for 2020 is that all races will be reduced to a maximum of 70 athletes, there are to be no scrimmages permitted, and competition and spectator limits are expected to be imposed.

"Many teams like to have a couple large meets in their schedule leading up to the regional and state meet, so that their athletes have experience running with a group and staying relaxed within it," Evart coach Kevin Mills said. "As coaches, we are going to need to prepare our athletes to perform at their best, even when they feel like they are out there all by themselves."

"I've had 11 kids show up for the conditioning (runs)," Crouch said. "One of my other runners was at a two-day running camp.

"A lot of our runners are younger, not all of them have drivers' licenses so we're accommodating parents' schedules until school starts."

The first meet is scheduled to be in late August at the Benzie Central Pete Moss Invitational.

"I'm still working with our athletic director (Shawn Ruppert) on the schedule," Crouch said. "We have the Cecil Burch Invitational on Oct. 3. On our dates I'm working with our athletic director on how we're going to do our meets."

Although cross country seasons have the green light, there are restrictions which will challenge Pine River and other hosting schools. For instance, a maximum of 70 runners are allowed in a race, which will be a challenge for some invitationals which usually has a large number of participants.

"It sounds like we'll be limited to seven runners for boys and seven for girls," Crouch said. "I know our kids are looking forward to it. They were excited to get together and push each other and compare notes to what they were doing over the summer."

Jayce Methner, who went to the state meet last season, is Pine River's top returning boy runner along with Phil Rigling.