Cross-country coaches look for improvement in year two

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Bearden's boys cross country team starts off a recent meet.

Wyeth Wilson, Staff Writer

The second year of a new coaching staff is usually when a team makes the biggest improvements.

This is exactly what coaches Patty Thewes and Ashley Powell are hoping for as they begin their second season leading the Bearden cross country teams.

“As a cross country team, we were very successful in the 2013 season, but we are excited about what 2014 brings,” said Coach Powell, a BHS teacher and the program’s assistant coach.

“As a second year coach, my goal is to build on the previous season which means developing training plans and workouts that are going to aid our student-athletes and help them become the best that they can be.”

The runners will get their third chance of the season Saturday morning when they run in the Cherokee Classic in Sequoyah Park.

New training and different workouts have been different in the coaches’ second season. Since Coach Thewes and Coach Powell were hired in the late summer of 2013, when the runners met with them for the first time, they did not have what Coach Thewes called “a good summer base”.

But this year, the transition into the beginning of the season has been much smoother, and it has been thanks to the two coaches’ influence on preseason workouts.

Bearden has had a solid start to the season at the Hardin Valley and Powerade Invitationals. The boys have finished in seventh and third, respectively, while the girls have finished sixth in both meets.

Getting off to a strong start can also be attributed to knowing what to expect from the two coaches, with whom the runners had no relationship a year ago.

“I think interacting with the coaches has been easier [this season] because we have a better understanding of what they want us to do,” junior David Shankles said. “Now that they’re established and familiar with the team, I think they know our potential and will push us harder than before.”

Even though Coach Thewes and Coach Powell know all of the members on the team from their first year of coaching, they have made it a point to meet with every runner on the team to discuss that athlete’s goals for this season.

“Each student-athlete has at least a couple of goals pertaining to his or her athletic performance for the season, and an academic goal,” said Coach Thewes, the program’s head coach. “If all of our student-athletes achieve their goals by the end of the season, we will have a very successful season.

“We did much better than I believe people thought we would last year, and I think it was because of this philosophy.”

This season’s team is replacing many top athletes from last year’s team, which finished fourth for the boys and sixth for the girls in last year’s KIL Championships.

And while the coaches are confident about the upcoming season, they know that it’s not just about winning.

“You only come around this world one time, you’re only in high school a few years out of your whole life,” Coach Thewes said. “We want our team to have great memories looking back at our brief time together.”