The Rockmart cross country teams have been hard at work this summer in order to prepare for the season, and have already made adjustments to their routine, hoping to perform better.
Head coach Adam Blalock stated that first, they changed their summer conditioning schedule in an effort to have more runners at practice. The team now hosts two practices per day, and members are only required to attend one.
So far, Blalock said the implemented plan has had a positive outcome as 15 to 20 of the 22 students are showing up to the conditioning practices each day. “Summer is going well and we’re getting a lot of milage in,” he said.
Blalock and the other coaches also made changes to their upcoming season routine and schedule. Both the girls and the boys teams will be competing in smaller, more competitive meets, due to the growing turnout of runners at the larger meets.
Bigger meets with more runners create challenges for the team members to run at their own pace.
“The meets with 500 or 600 runners in a race cause you to get lost in the mix and your times end up terrible because there are so many people,” Blalock said.
Blalock said he hopes that this change makes a difference and helps with the team’s readiness for meets and morale after.
He added that the teams will still participate in the Carrollton Orthopedic meet due to the course being the same as the state championship meet course.
Rockmart will also be hosting a meet this year at Nathan Dean Park on October 12. Blalock hopes to have 12 teams competing at the meet.
Overall for the season, though, both the girls and boys team have similar goals—want to win the region title, advance to the state championship meet, and form well at state.
Although these goals are the same for both teams, the boys team has a bigger challenge and goal to face as they didn’t place high enough at the region championship last year in order to have a chance to compete at the state meet.
Blakely County and Jeff Davis were named as the girls’ main competition for the state meet, while the boys are also preparing to face tough completion including Armuchee, Pepperell, and Blakely County, who has the top runner in the state on their team.
Coach Kevin Bachtel named Junior Dalton Sprayberry as the leading runner on the boys varsity team, and mentioned Sprayberry’s participation in the previous spring track season played a role in helping to bring his mile time down.
“We have a fresh group coming in and hopefully they’ll all be contributing,” Bachtel said.
He named Sophomores Maggie Jo Gentry and Eisley Pope as the top runners on the girls team, and said they will be key to leading the varsity team just like they did last year.
Bachtel added that the girls also have a good group of younger athletes coming in, who they expect to see great things from.
The teams will be losing a small group of Seniors after this fall season: Malorie Bradfield, Katrina Howard, and Nathan Bonito, but hope to see them performing well and getting the team ready for races before they go.
As of now, none of these Seniors have plans for cross country on the collegiate level after graduation in May 2020.