For the first time in the history of the school, a varsity cross country team will be in competition at Paden City School for the 2012 season. Coached by Kim Huffman, the new program boasts seven high school and six middle school athletes.
"We're so excited," Huffman said. "We have had kids in the past interested in running cross country, but we just have not had enough to field a full team. This year, we do."
Huffman, the head coach of the Wildcat boys track team for the past several years, believes the cross country program will add to the Spring track season for both the boys and girls track teams.
"We've lacked distance runners on the track team, and I believe this program will enhance that aspect of our track team, not to mention the cross training this sport allows for all the other sports the kids participate in here."
As it is, several of the athletes on the team not only participate on other teams throughout the year, but during the same season as cross country. Four members of the team will compete with the cheerleading squad and six with the Wildcat Marching band while simultaneously competing on the cross country team.
Members of the varsity team include, junior: Austin Quinn; sophomores - Mallory Estel, Amber Neff, Ciera Yoho, Hannah Stanley, Dean Frye, and Kayla Hizer. The middle school athletes will consist of five eighth graders: Evan Shreve, Cade Myers, Cade Crislip, Jake Pierce, and Madaline Cox; and sixth grader, Hannah Loy.
In West Virginia, the WVSSAC stipulates that a cross country team shall consist of at least five, but no more than seven runners per team, so the 'Cats certainly qualify. And even though this is the first year for cross country at the school, the majority of the team enters the season with track experience behind them.
"We have high expectations for each of them," Huffman said. "We don't expect them to go out and win ever single competition we enter, but we do expect them to give their best effort every time out, and I know they will. This is a group of good kids who want to participate and we believe they'll do well."
The Green and White harriers will begin their first full season on Aug. 25 when they participate in the large Autumn Classic meet in St. Marys at 9 a.m. a few miles down the road from the MOVTI Center.