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Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
  • Smyrna cross country running past the competition

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  • The Smyrna High School cross country teams are off to a hot start this year, with the boys team sitting at 5-1 and the girls at 4-1 respectively.
    New head coach Jennifer Suarez said the team is doing very well and that they're coming together, but they're still not "where my expectations are." Which is just fine with her because she's hoping the runners don't start running their fastest times until the championship season later this fall.
    "Little by little we are coming together," Suarez said. "We're definitely as a team coming together, but we still have a long road ahead of us."
    Girls could run the distance
    So far both sides of the team have won some pretty one-sided meets. Suarez said this little factoid is especially amazing for the girls team because one of the top runners is out with an injury so the Lady Eagles are really only running with about five girls.
    "So we're doing this in small numbers. It just shows you [that with] the little amount of people we have, the depth that we actually do have," Suarez said.
    And it is the depth of the team that makes Suarez feel the girls team has the potential of going far in the conference especially with the help of runners Tori Vickers and Erin Cooper, who Suarez thinks are the top two runners in the conference.
    Boys improving from last year
    As for the boys side of the cross country team, Suarez thinks the team will definitely improve upon last year's 6-6 record and believes the team will lose at the most three meets.
    "I think we're going to open some eyes," Suarez said.
    Sophomore runner Gabe Mojica said the team is doing good as a team so far: "We've got to keep the same intensity going, keep the hard work at practice for our meets and trust each other in our workouts."
    Needs for continuing the early success
    Senior runner Emilee Virdin, who is out with an injury, said the girls team is doing really well this year but there are a few things they need to improve upon including running closer together and overcoming injuries.
    "I think we have a great season ahead of us," Virdin said. "I think they'll race well. We're listening to all the things Coach Suarez has taught us with breathing, having good form, and we're all really close….that helps too."
    Page 2 of 2 - Suarez echoed some of Virdin's comments including the importance of staying healthy, as she's big on runners stretching and building their core.
    The big thing the teams have talked about is keeping the intensity up at practice. While Suarez said the teams can enjoy their wins, they need to stay humble and hungry for more. The teams need to continue improving and making the most of every opportunity they have especially at practice.
    "We can't back down at anytime," Suarez said. "We still have a lot to prove for ourselves and for our school. We want to be the best but we've got to work for it."
    Email Jennifer Dailey at jennifer.dailey@doverpost.com.
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