Cedartown cross country teams prepare for new season

Members of the Cedartown High School boys’ cross country team warms up on the football field during a recent conditioning.

Head coach Dr. Richard Shortt and the Cedartown High School cross country runners are racing towards having a successful 2020 season. As Shortt said, not even a pandemic could hold them back.

“It’s been a pretty normal preseason for us to be honest with you,” Shortt said. “There have been a few changes but our runners have been getting after it.”

For contact sports like football, or sports that require a ball such as volleyball and softball, coaches have been extremely frustrated this summer. Until recently, GHSA guidelines have disallowed contact and the use of balls in practice.

However, for a sport that focuses on a participant’s running endurance like cross country, it has not been as big of an issue.

“The only obstacle for us has been the amount of kids and coaches that can be in one place at one time,” Shortt said. “I have it set up for two separate evening practices on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

“My biggest worry entering practice this year was the health of our kids,” Shortt said. “I told the parents that they should only run if the parents wanted them to run. The last thing I wanted was for one of our kids to go running at the Silver Comet Trail and end up sick. I have a great relationship with all their parents so I just left it up to them.”

Shortt mentioned that the late start to conditioning this year did not change his approach.

“I am proud to say that most of our runners showed up the first week in great shape,” he said. “Still, I ran them all like they’d been sitting on the couch for three months. That’s the key, that’s just what you have to do.”

“I am really looking forward to this season. I think we have a really good shot to be one of the best teams in our region. We return a lot of great boys and girls,” Shortt said. “Our boys team made it to state last year, barely edging out some very good Central (Carrollton) and Sandy Creek squads. The best part is that we return seven freshmen and one junior.”

The Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs will venture to Region 7-4A starting in August where they will compete against the likes of cross country powerhouse Pickens.

“We have had a tough region the last few years, taking on teams like Chapel Hill and Cartersville. They always perform well at state,” Shortt said. “Even with that being said, I don’t view this new region as any easier. We are going to have our hands full, but I’ve told our kids that we have just as good a chance as anybody to win the region this year.”

Shortt said that he views last week, the Georgia High School Association’s mandatory “dead period,” as a break for his team.

“Come next week, we are getting right back after it.”

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