ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond cross country teams are just days away from their opening meet and head coaches Reggie Miller, boys, and Shellie Wimpey, girls, are eager to see if the progressions made over the last month will translate.
Almost all of their runners have cut down on their respective times since the season began and were put through one last timed run — around the school’s football stadium and baseball field — during Thursday’s practice.
Like she’s done all summer, Wimpey joined in on the race as a way to stay in shape and serve as motivation.
“They have all improved drastically. They’ve taken a good amount of time off their race times, so we’re really proud of that,” she said of both groups. “We’ve already seen so many improvements, but I think race day will be even better because they’ll really start competing once they see other people in front of them.”
It has been Miller’s responsibility to lead both the boys and girls teams for the past nine years, but the “big” addition of Wimpey brings a new dynamic to the Raiders’ cross country program. Now he can solely focus on helping the boys while the first-year head coach doubles down on the importance of the girls consistently beating their times from last season.
Senior Gerardo Godinez has become, arguably, the boys’ best runner throughout the preseason. He’s received high praise from Miller for being “a natural” who’s gotten faster and developed a bit of a reputation for lapping his teammates.
Carson Jordan, sophomore, and Tyler Parker, senior team captain, continue to impress as well.
“We’re not a team based on talent but a team based on kids working hard, and that’s all you can ask,” Miller said of his boys. “From the first day that we did timed runs on our course until now … most of them have improved their time by at least a minute and a half — and we ran on the big loop (on our home course).”
As expected on the girls side, junior all-conference runner Ariel Brown has done a great job, Wimpey says, as the Lady Raiders get ready for the season. Brown’s ability to consistently finish in the low 20s has her “keeping up with most of the boys” during practice runs and eyeing another successful run through the season.
Sophomore Gracelyn Weatherford expects to be in the lower-to-mid 20s this year and Allison Leggett, also a sophomore, has shown big improvements, too. Wimpey believes Leggett will be “right up there with Gracelyn” this year.
“Dedication to the program,” Wimpey said of her message to the girls in her debut season. “I want them to show up every day for practice — and make up a day if they miss one — because if they care about it other people are going to care about it.
“I want to get them motivated to run and run faster, so a lot of times I like to run with them,” she added. “That way if I’m passing them I’m like, ‘Come on, I shouldn’t be passing you right now’ … so I hope that’s motivation, too.”
Both Richmond squads will make the trip to Pembroke next Tuesday, Sept. 4, for a conference battle with host Purnell Swett, Scotland and Seventy-First. The meet will begin at 5 p.m.
The Richmond boys and girls cross country teams begin a timed practice run Thursday afternoon.
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.