The girls and boys cross country teams now take center stage for the new Dothan Wolves.
After the school’s football and volleyball teams started their inaugural season over the last five days, the cross country teams begin their athletic tradition today.
The Wolves cross country teams, a consolidation of Dothan and Northview, compete at Houston Academy’s “The Faster you run, the Quicker you’re done” meet at Eastgate Park. The 11-team meet has a middle school race at 4:30 p.m., girls varsity at 5 and boys varsity at 5:40 p.m.
“There has been a lot of excitement this season as the Dothan Wolves – combining Dothan and Northview together, so the fastest runners on both teams have come together,” said Wolves senior Trevor Shaw, who competed at the old Dothan High for three years.
The Wolves, coached by Haley Todd, have 20 runners on roster – 12 boys and eight girls. Seven of the 20 are seniors.
“I’m excited,” said junior Kate Smith, a member of Dothan High the last few years. “I feel like we will have a good season. We have a great group. It will be fun this season.”
The girls team is made up of two seniors, four juniors, a sophomore and a freshman. Macy Benton and Jamie Diaz are the seniors. Emma Grace Delk, Elizabeth Herndon, Jadalie Medeiros and Smith are the juniors. Shakala Marcel, a sophomore, and Francis Gamble, a freshman, round out the girls roster.
The boys team features five seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and one freshman. Chris Duran, Ruben Jones, Jonathan Medeiros, Shaw and Ameer Wilson are the seniors. Gabriel Simmons, Jerrick Thai and Levi Thomas are the juniors. Owen Armstrong, Christopher Lindsey and Robert Wynn are the sophomores and Ethan Johnston is the freshman.
While some runners feel an extra excitement this year, others feel it is similar to last year.
“It kind of feels like any other cross country program,” Jones said. “I did the Northview one last year and the year before. I haven’t really noticed anything different except the team is more coordinated. It doesn’t really feel any different.”
Though running at different schools last year, most knew the other school’s runners.
“It hasn’t been that weird because in cross country everybody is friendly and the teams have all been close,” Smith said. “Being on the same team doesn’t feel that much different.”
Herndon, a junior who competed at Dothan High since the seventh grade, said team camaraderie is solid.
“We have gotten along great,” Herndon said. “Everybody loves each other. We are all helping each other. If we need water, somebody goes to get water. If anybody is struggling, everybody is cheering them on.”
Coaching the team is Todd, a cross country runner at Newnan (Ga.) High School who is an active marathon runner. Todd also competed in gymnastics and lacrosse in high school. This is her second year teaching, but first as head cross country coach.
“They have been working well together,” Todd said. “They have been working as a team. I have certain runners who are faster, but they all support each other. They wait at the end and cheer them on when they come in at end of practice. We start and end every practice together.”
Todd doesn’t have any expectations for today, but will use it as a barometer for the rest of the season.
“Our goal for our meet (today) is to find out how they do in the competition environment,” Todd said. “Some of them have never run before and some are very experienced runners. I want to gauge where they are at now so I can talk to them about their end of season goals when we come to sectionals and state.”
Jones said the Wolves can’t get too pumped for the season opener.
“Treat it like any other opening meet,” Jones said. “Eastgate is a good course. It has always been my favorite course, so running there the first week is going to be fun.”
Teams registered for the meet are Enterprise, Dothan, Charles Henderson, Headland, Houston Academy, Opp, Providence Christian, Straughn, Wicksburg, New Brockton and Zion Chapel.
Another new team: In addition to Dothan, another new Wiregrass school is competing for the first time today – New Brockton. The school picked up the sport this season.
The teams are coached by Ranae Eddins and David Eddins. There are 12 runners on roster, but only nine will compete Thursday.
Zion Chapel, Kinston results: Both Zion Chapel and Kinston competed Saturday at the Trinity Trailblazer meet in Montgomery. The Zion Chapel boys finished ninth and Kinston, with three seventh graders running, finished 15th. The Kinston girls were seventh out of eight teams and Zion Chapel didn’t have enough girls for team scoring.
Zion Chapel’s Justin Porterfield was the top local finisher, earning 15th in the 140-runner field with a 20 minutes and 6.89 seconds time. Stetson Adcock (82nd place, 24:06.24), Eric Dennis (88th, 24:24.95) and Korin Jacobs (94th, 24:48.93) were the Rebels’ other top finishers.
Seventh graders Colby Tew and Michael Thompson led Kinston, finishing in 67th and 84th place, respectively, with times of 23:15.72 and 24;13.42.
The Kinston girls were led by Claire McReynolds, who finished 23rd among the 81 girls runners with a 26:42.78 time. Landra Free led Zion Chapel, taking 45th place in 29:41.51.
HA ends 14-year drought: It might have seemed like Tuesday’s win over city rival Providence Christian was a first for Houston Academy. Not quite, but close.
The Raiders’ 25-23, 22-25, 15-12 win was the first in 14 years over the Eagles. Houston Academy beat PCS in a season opener on Aug. 25, 2005, 25-14, 27-25 behind Sara Johnson and Madison Jackson.
Providence Christian, behind the play of Ashton Brawner, Rachel Cary and Rebecca Dowd, earned a 25-19, 25-14, 25-15 victory over the Raiders less than a month later on Sept. 22.
That win started a PCS domination of 41 straight victories over HA until Tuesday. It was so dominant that HA won only four sets in the 41 matches.
Elba has new coach: A list of new volleyball high school coaches last week left off a 10th new coach – Kaiden Harrell at Elba. Harrell makes her debut today when the Tigers host McKenzie.
Tournament play: Two teams play in tournaments this weekend. Enterprise competes at the KSA Classic in Orlando, while Providence is at the annual Mayor Cup in Montgomery.
Enterprise plays three Florida teams and two from Texas in pool play at the Orlando tourney, which starts today. Providence plays four teams in pool play in Montgomery, one on Friday and three on Saturday.