New additions to the program have the North White cross-country teams on the upswing.
“For the fist time in a long time, we have a full boys team and have nine guys running this year,” Vikings head coach Ashley Culross said. “The kids have put in nice effort all summer and seem really excited about the season.
“We have a lot of potential and I’m really looking forward to see how this season unfolds.”
She admits it was difficult for her boys, who in the past ran mostly as individuals.
“I feel like it takes a lot more dedication because it’s hard to run without that morale of running for the team,” she said of putting together a full team. “They have had to find that inner strength even more when you run as an individual.”
Culross said a recent push helped her pick up a couple more runners.
“We just had another call-out earlier this week and we got a couple more kids on the team. We have four girls, but are still looking for one more runner to join our squad,” Culross noted.
Harrison Regional qualifier Olivia Allen (72nd, 24 minutes, 28 seconds) and senior captain Maria Grajales Rojas (38th, Benton Central Sectional, 26:10) will lead the girls team while two-time regional qualifier Dominick Hernandez (82nd, 20:56) will pace the boys squad.
Senior Texas transfer Leo Lucia, junior Jesus Mata Pecina and freshmen Juan Mata Pecina and Eli Stearns will give North White some much-needed depth. Sophomore Hannah Cosgray joins the girls team.
“With the newcomer men, we are really looking forward to the possibility of advancing as a team to the regional or taking Midwest Conference. As long as the team pushes themselves to their fullest, there’s potential. North White cross country is going to have a great year,” Culross said. “At our small school it’s hard to find athletes who aren’t already involved in (other sports). I feel like there has to be more I can do that I’m not already doing to get more involved, but just haven’t figured it out yet.”
While the program’s size is small, its bond is strong.
“They deserve the fullest running experience. They’ve worked so hard and can’t wait for competitions to start,” Culross said.