Silex, Mo. - To truly have a competitive cross-country squad, it has to have enough runners.
That has been Silex coach Andy Mills’ biggest problem in his first two years. Year No. 3, however, has told a different story at the outset, and the upcoming season looks promising.
“Our numbers have definitely grown,” Mills said. “This is the first time we’ve fielded a full team since I’ve been here.
“We have finally fielded a team that can compete in the postseason.”
Mills said it was a process building the team, but it has worked so far.
“Part of it’s building relationships with kids in the classroom,” he said. “The other part is working with the coaches in the other fall sports.
“A lot of the girls here also play softball.”
The Owls might be one of the youngest squads in the state. Mills said some upperclassmen could arrive later, but regardless, what he does have is hungry and ready to compete.
“We have a lot of middle school kids and freshmen,” he said. “We only have two runners who aren’t freshmen, unless we have a couple of kids who come out after school starts – which I’m hoping for.”
Getting the kids in one thing. Keeping the kids there is another, and Mills said he finds ways not to make practices so boring.
“I try to make it as fun as possible,” he said. “We’ll throw a football around, or play Ultimate Frisbee sometimes, anything to distract from running sometimes to keep them more interested.”
Silex finally has the numbers to truly compete on a state level, but the goal for Mills’ squad is still the same: to become stronger runners and successful citizens.
“I would like each runner to finish stronger than the beginning,” he said. “Some courses are flat, and some courses are hilly.
“If each player beats their time, and looks stronger at the end of the season, I’d feel like we had a successful season.”