The Chickasha High School cross country team will be looking for some new leaders this season.
The Chicks had two runners qualify for state in 2011: Zach Widener and Mary Kathleen Allen. Both of them graduated, along with Kylie Williams.
Widener went on to Oklahoma Baptist University to continue his running career. Williams also signed with OBU, but for soccer.
"Mary and Zachary were top-caliber runners, but we have some kids this year that are really trying to fill in and be that competitive on both sides," head coach Angela Widener said. "I'm hoping they find their fire and take the steps they need to get to that level."
There are five brand new members on this year's team. Monica Berrera is a senior who has run distance in track, and usually does pom in the fall. Melanie Sales, Dedrick Freeman and Laken Sanches are freshmen. Ben Fuller, a sophomore, is new to Chickasha.
Hannah Elrod and Kelsey Taylor are returning to the team. Both ran during their freshman year, but didn't run as sophomores or juniors.
"Kelsey and Hannah, if they're both where they were as freshmen and continue building, they could be looking at qualifying for state," Widener said. "As freshmen, they weren't far behind Mary [Allen]."
Widener also said Berrera hasn't been far behind Kelsey in early practices, making her someone who could potentially make a run at state.
Widener expects junior Devin Warden to be the top runner for the boys this season. Warden was second in time behind Zach Widener last year.
"Devin is competitive, and he can drop some more time and maybe slide in there as an individual for state," Coach Widener said.
The Chicks have been practicing since the first week of school, with a varied schedule of workouts.
Mondays are distance days, during which the boys run six miles and the girls run four. Tuesday is speed work day, and the team runs timed quarters and halves on the track. Wednesday is more distance, Thursday the team runs hills, and Friday is "fun day", when the team takes it a little bit easier.
The Chicks also do core strengthening on Monday and Wednesday.
Widener said her runners stay in shape throughout the year by being multi-sport athletes, many of them either running track or playing soccer in the spring.
"Soccer lends well to cross country because of the conditioning soccer players need to go for 40 minute halves," Widener said. "Some of them are out there that whole time."
Chickasha's first meet of the season, which was scheduled for Sept. 4 in Oklahoma City, was postponed due to the heat.
"The opener is always just a baseline," Widener said. "Finding out where you are and where you want to be. Nathan [Stewart] dropped three minutes off his time last season from the first meet [to the last]."
The Chicks' next meet is scheduled for Sept. 11; The Putnam City North meet, which will take place at Woodson Park.
2012 Cross Country roster
Girls: Monica Berrera (senior), Hannah Elrod (senior), Melanie Sales (freshman), Kelsey Taylor (senior).
Boys: Junior Avila (senior), Shane Crowder (junior), Ben Fuller (sophomore), Dedrick Freeman (freshman), Cooper Mosley (sophomore), Kyle Mosley (senior), Laken Sanches (freshman), Nathan Stewart (senior), Devin Warden (junior).
Sept. 11, PC North
Sept. 22, OBU
Sept. 27, Cache
Oct. 4, OBU
Oct. 9, Conf., Piedmont
Oct. 20, Reg., Norman
Oct. 27, State, Edmond Santa Fe