SPRINGFIELD — The Effingham County cross country team is returning a strong and experienced group of runners this is looking forward to another long season of pounding the pavement.
The Rebels have just three seniors but there’s talent in each class. The boys graduated Kody Everett, the team’s top runner, but Seth Moye, William Hall and Will Collins are back.
“Seth Moye — he’s definitely been training this summer,” Effingham County head coach Pamela Richards said. “He’s an outstanding young man. He will be our leader I’m sure for the boys.
William Hall is going to be my only returning senior. Will Collins – every single race he ran, his score got better.”
Megan Hilton and Candace Kieffer will anchor the girls team, along with Skyllar Hoenshell, Shelby Hilton and Brooke Maseda.
“Brooke Maseda — she had a really solid, dependable freshman year,” Richards said. “She’s like a machine. I’m looking forward to seeing how she does her sophomore year.
“Candace and Megan are my one and two. I do have some promising ones that have expressed interest.”
Richards can’t wait to see how the season pans out for her younger group and she’s delighted her seniors have another opportunity to do what they love.
“(I look forward to) seeing my young ones blossom,” Richards said. “Certainly, I’m looking forward to seeing my seniors having a great year. I know that was difficult for seniors in the spring that were cheated out of that senior season (by COVID-19).
“I want my seniors to finish well. Megan and William have run all four years. I want them to have the best senior year possible.
“I am looking forward to seeing my young ones come into their own and grow and develop.”
Protective measures will be in place as runners take the course this season. Coaches will be responsible for keeping track of how their athletes feel but one noticeable change that schools may consider is the use of a staggered start for a meet. While many runners live for the thrill of running alongside the most talented athletes, Richards believes the exhilaration of the competition will kick in no matter what and doesn’t believe running in different groups will impact performances. And, too, Richards chooses to look at the bright side of things and is grateful their season hasn’t been cancelled.
“The adrenaline of the competition always comes into being,” Richards said. “I’d rather run in a heat than not at all. It’s going to look different, but at least we get to be out there competing. At least we get to continue doing something that our kids love.
“This is healthy for them. They are getting vitamin D. They are strengthening their bodies.”