ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond cross country teams’ summer workouts have been limited due to the NCHSAA dead periods and some bad weather, so head coaches Reggie Miller (boys) and Shellie Wimpey (girls) wanted to keep things simple when everyone came together Tuesday evening at Hinson Lake.
“This is only our second workout (of the summer). We’re just trying to get everybody in shape, and once they get in shape we can go from there,” Miller said. “We just want them to get their mileage in and keep them motivated.”
A number of new and returning runners — including the top boys and girls returners from a season ago in rising senior Zachariah Hamilton and rising junior Ariel Brown, respectively — were joined on their three-mile trek by Wimpey.
Wimpey, entering her first season with the program, finished first out of the all of the girls who ran on Tuesday.
She’s a former high school cross-country runner who still enjoys hitting the trail.
“This is something that I enjoy and I can come out here and, hopefully, get them to enjoy it. That’s my goal with anything that deals with cardiovascular health,” said Wimpey, also a physical education teacher. “I try to do that with my classes as well. I try to go out there and run with them because I feel like if they see you doing it, then they’re more willing to do it.”
This upcoming season will be the first time since Miller took over the Raiders cross country program — now that Wimpey is coaching the girls — that he will only be responsible for coaching one of the two teams.
Now, there’s more time for him to put all of his effort into helping the boys achieve their goals.
“I never complained about (coaching both teams) but I’m not getting any younger,” Miller said with a laugh. “It can be tough trying to manage two teams at once, so Coach Wimpey coming in is big … because now we can help each other.”
Hamilton, who has been receiving interest from a few schools, and fellow rising senior Tyler Parker have been named team captains for the boys. They will be joined by returners Haroldo Gudnez, Carson Jordan and Joey Nicholson.
“We’re just looking to improve. There are no high expectations,” Miller added. “We’re just going to let our actions show what we’ve got, which is a pretty good group of boys coming back who are hard workers — and they’re not going to quit.”
As for the girls, Brown and rising sophomore Gracelyn Weatherford are a couple of runners Wimpey can rely on as she prepares for her debut season.
Brown, the only girls runner named to the 2017 All-Sandhills Athletic Conference team, had multiple first-place finishes last season and ran a personal-best 21:46 at the conference championship.
Weatherford recorded her personal record at the SAC championship race as well, coming in at 23:52.
“I’m really excited. They’re a nice group of girls … and I’m hoping to learn something from them since I’ve never coached cross country before,” Wimpey said. “This is definitely going to be a learning year, but I’m really excited to be under Coach Miller. He’s been doing this a lot time, so I’m hoping I can learn a lot.”
Both teams will be on the school’s track on Thursday, July 26, at 7 p.m. for their final voluntary summer workout. Tryouts will be held next Wednesday, Aug. 1, at Hinson Lake and next Thursday, Aug. 2, at the track.
A couple members of the Richmond girls cross country team make their way through the final moments of a three-mile run during Tuesday’s summer workout at Hinson Lake. Girls head coach Shellie Wimpey said she’s “really excited” to learn from her runners during the upcoming season, her first year with the program.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.