Fall 2020 Preview: Frankfort cross country eyes big goals in 2020
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - Frankfort’s 2020 cross country teams are big in numbers and big on expectations. They may have lost a few runners to COVID-related concerns, but for the most part, the numbers are robust, as is the effort and expectations.
How has COVID affected pre-season planning and practicing for Frankfort’s cross country teams? Fortunately, the teams are full of self-starters and dedicated runners who have practiced on their own. Where they have been affected is losing out on some of the fun traditions and activities that just can’t happen this year.
“It hasn’t affected cross country as much as other sports. But, we keep saying every day, the more we do things, the more we realize we miss out on things. That’s the biggest impact we’ve seen. So many small little things that we traditionally do that we can’t do this year. But we are fortunate that we’ve got runners that are interested in the training, but it still takes away from some of the enjoyment,” Frankfort boys cross country coach Juan Phillips stated.
According to Frankfort girls cross country coach Woody Snoberger, “We noticed that when we couldn’t have practice, the kids were sending me stuff showing that they were out running on their own. So, most of them, conditioning wise, are just as conditioned as they’ve been. They lost their spring season, and so it’s helped them not take things for granted, us too.”
Phillips added that a significant impact will be the loss of extra spectators. “Kids running really feed off of spectators. We’ve always encouraged anybody who wanted to come out to come out to watch. The fact that there are spectator restrictions impacts our kids because they feed off that.”
One significant effect COVID has had is on scheduling. With Maryland postponing all fall sports, gone are local Maryland schools participation in local meets, and of course the meets the Maryland schools hosted are cancelled. Gone also are overnight trips to places with much bigger tournaments. Tournaments that offer elite level competition to prepare for the regional and state meets.
“We had a really great schedule picked out, we actually were going to go to North Carolina this year. That was obviously taken. But I’m just thankful right now that as a whole, I’m just happy that we have anything. If we can get through what we have, I’ll be tickled pink, Snoberger stated.
According to Phillips, “We have our dual meet here against Keyser next week and if we get to that to race that race, I’m going to be very excited. That’s our annual thing and will make it feel like our season. We will take it meet by meet and whatever we can get, we won’t take it for granted.
Both Frankfort teams are strong in numbers and experience. The personnel is in place to do big things as in the past. It’s a winning tradition that allows success to build on success. The numbers and results provide the proof in the pudding and cross country is a popular fall sport at the school.
“We have six returners on the boys’ side from a team that finished third in the state. You throw in that we had a solid freshmen core last year, including Garrett Ferguson who was in that bunch, and all those other kids were feeding off Garrett. They are now stepping up and have been working really hard. So you have six returners plus a massive group of other kids that are going to push those six. We are going to be the deepest we’ve ever been and the most talented we have ever been,” Phillips stated.
According to Snoberger, “In total, we lost six girls as some didn’t come back out, but we’ve gained three freshmen who I think are all going to be key players. We have a huge group of juniors, seven, but no seniors. We have one of those blue-collar type teams, we don’t necessarily have front runners who are going to win the race, but we will have a group of girls who can win meets with that pack running mentality. Jillian Griffith and Brooke Jacobs have been trading back and forth for us at the top so far.”
In terms of a season outlook, both squads have high expectations. Both teams have ambitions of making it to the state meet.
“For the girls, our biggest goal is to win the PVC, but their main goal is that they want to get back to the state meet. I think they are capable of doing that, but we have a tough region. It will be tough for them to do but it is very possible. They just missed it the last couple of years,” Snoberger explained.
According to Phillips, “We set our original schedule this year not just to dominate in West Virginia, we wanted to go out and showcase our team. We want to win a state title and we have a team that can do it. You never know what other schools are going to pull out, but at the same time, we’re not focusing on the other schools, we know what we’ve got. Our focus is the state title, the boys have the ambition of winning the state championship.
Of all the sports, COVID-19 has perhaps least impacted cross country. It most certainly hasn’t affected the high ambitions and expectations for the Frankfort cross country teams.