The time has come. 3:30PM Monday, August 19th. For two and a half months you have been preparing and putting in miles upon miles upon glorious miles to be in a position that will put you ahead of the competition.
Last year we ended our season prematurely; walking home with 6th place finishes at Regionals and watching those top-3 teams cheer with excitement having punched their tickets to State. It is an unsettling feeling, for sure. But this year has the promise to build off of those experiences and spark a fire under our runners to continue a reaching of their goals.
We have been graced by up-and-coming freshmen and transfers whose talents have garnered a unity and confidence that we began to see last season. Mix them in with our returning harriers and BAM! we should have ourselves a beautiful concoction of Chesty Lion dominance.
We won't know how the season will unfold until it does, but we the coaches have a good idea. Not many seasons starts out grandiose and those that do often stagnate and hold on for dear life at the end. We expect that we will start out at or slightly better than where we ended last season and with patience and endurance and building upon weekly experiences, we will be in uncharted territory come late-October.
Putting speed onto those summer-mile legs will reap countless benefits as the season wades on. We will start to see kids coming from the woodwork putting themselves on varsity and vying for top-10 spots in races, no doubt.
But why? Aside from the summer miles that were logged, this group that we have this year loves to compete. They are tired of being the broken record of Lawrence; always experiencing familiar results on what seems to be an endless loop. They are ready to write their own pages of Lawrence High Cross Country history.
That being said, progress is rarely a straight line and we as coaches understand that wholeheartedly. We have often taken five steps forward, bounded three steps back, jumped from side-to-side, and have even done a handstand a time or two. However, it is the experience that keeps us on our toes and in continually teaching these student-athletes about overcoming adversity in spite of the odds.
If we as coaches and athletes commit to the vision and accountability that this sport requires, then there should be no reason why any of us should leave this season the same as when we started it; continuing our climb up this pyramid of success, always ready to stack another brick on top once we get there.
The time has come . . . but more importantly, your time has come.