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Small NM XC squad looks for big finishes

GUIDANCE: North Miami junior Kaylee Lane returns with the most experience for the short-handed squad, having reached the Culver Military Academy Regionalfor a second year in-a-row. Lane leads a five-strong squad as the Warriors will be focused on individual goals throughout the 2019 season.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

Small but mighty will have to be the cry for North Miami’s cross country teams this season.

The Warriors will start the season with a five-pack of runners with one returning regional qualifier mixed in to lead the squad and a new head coach at the helm in Tara Lane.

“I ran when I was in school and (cross country) is my favorite sport,” Lane said about taking on the coaching role. “Two of my kids run and I thought it was a nice thing to try.

“I’ve always wanted to coach cross country and with the position being open, it felt like the time to try.”

Lane said the kids took much of the summer running upon themselves, helping to ease into the new season.

“The kids participated in Sara’s Run for the Rocks 5k while some of them met at Nickel Plate Trail for running, bike rides and swimming,” Lane said. “We’re currently trying to get our base and our miles up before starting work on speed and other things.”

The small squad has three juniors involved in regional qualifier Kaylee Lane, Rhys Percy and newcomer Kendra Donaldson alongside two freshmen in Allison Bowman and Corey Brault.

Three of the five runners have running experience as Lane, Percy and Brault ran last year for the Warriors and Lane said the group as a whole was coming along nicely.

“Kaylee has been working as team captain, leading through stretches and working to mentor some of the other runners,” Lane noted. “She’s been working on getting her miles in this summer, trying to build that base up and trying to be prepared for the season.

“Our two new girls are looking great. I expect to see huge increases as they go on as, during the first few practices, they’ve looked good.

“Rhys ran last year while Corey was in the middle school last year and he’s out again, adjusting to the increase in distance,” Lane added. “They’re a little bit behind the girls right now but they’ll pick it up.”

While Lane said there was a drive to recruit more runners to come out as the season progresses, the goals for the team early on were to establish a baseline and build off of it through the first month of competition.

“I want to see them improve each race,” Lane said. “The first race will determine where they’re at and will give us our goal for the next race to improve on.

“Our two new girls have a nice distance between them where they have something to work for. They’re spaced evenly and that will help as the season goes on.”

Lane added the squad was not being bogged down by the lack of numbers and was being encouraged to enjoy each race while finding new goals to set each time out.

“We haven’t talked about races yet but we did talk about how much fun races are and the adrenaline rush,” Lane pointed out. “The kids know what they do each day is a huge accomplishment and they feel good about what they can do.

“We have talked about individual finishing, about what places they can shoot for and their individual goals.” North Miami kicks off the season August 24 at the North White Invitational before hosting its own invitational August 27.

While there would be an adjustment period for several of the runners, Lane said by the time the squad reaches late September and into October, the runners would be a great spot to work their way out of the Culver Military Academy Sectional.

“I think these kids can place well,” Lane said. “We can see regional placements in their future. “They definitely have the potential and are putting in the work now. They have goals for each day, they’re completing those goals and moving on to the next one.”