BY RICK WRIGHT –
“We have a lot of seniors this year,” said Head Mena High School Cross-Country coach Randy Peters. “Compared to last year, we only had two seniors. We have seven seniors and two of those seniors are foreign exchange students from Norway and Germany, which is really cool. So we get to see the European style of running. We have a lot of new people. We had about five returning from last year and this year we have 24 all together, that’s including boys and girls.”
Coach Peters has tried to get the cross-country participation numbers up. He has tried to spread the word promoting cross-country.
“You’re running three miles,” said Peters. “It’s difficult to get kids interested in something that’s so hard.”
Some of the kids have been running all summer long. “Five of the kids ran all summer long,” said Peters. “I didn’t get to work with them until last week. But Clint Buck is a big one, our most experienced runner and most skilled in the fact of winning almost every meet he goes to. Abbie Smith on the girls side does a really good job as does Evelyn Smith. Last year was Robert Mcintyre’s first year to run and now he’s right there with Buck and he’s only a sophomore this year. So we are looking for big things out of him.”
The first cross-country meet is September 13th at Acorn.
“De Queen usually has the largest turnout with at least 40 runners,” said Peters. “So they are one of the biggest teams that will be there. On our schedule we go to Mansfield which is a really good meet and Magazine is another good one.”
“The Chile Pepper Nationals is in Fayetteville at the University of Arkansas, at the runners complex,” said Peters. “It’s an awesome experience, because we bring our top two boys and girls there. They get to see the college and kind of show them what college running is all about, because LSU, Arkansas all the big D-Ones that run have a race before ours. So our kids get to see that level of competition. And a lot of those get to go to the Olympics. So they get to see Olympians running before their race, which is awesome. I’ve got video of the actual race with over 700 kids at one time on the starting line. It’s amazing to see that.”
Coach Peters is not only coaching cross-country this year but is also coaching junior high basketball, assistant senior high basketball and boys junior high track. This is Peters second year teaching and coaching in the Mena Schools system. He is a Mena graduate, then graduated with his Associates Degree from North Arkansas before transferring to Southeastern to play basketball and received his teaching degree there.
Coach Peters and Acorn Coach Keith Willsey are working together to hold a cross-country meet at the Lion’s Club Disc Golf Course in the future.
Team members include: Seniors Clint Buck, Gary Boehler, Abbie Smithm Dennis Virsch, Breanna Sanders, Evelyn Smith, Fredrik Gudim; juniors Will Shanear and Traven Lane; sophomores Nick Myers, Connor Harvey, Breanna Elliot, Robert Mcintyre and Joseph Looney; freshmen Katie Mesko, Julianna Kennedy, Curtis Curry, and Justina Smith; eighth graders Mathew Cravens and Logan Myers; seventh graders Alex Harper and Ashly Smith.
MENA BEARCAT AND LADYCAT 2016 CROSS-COUNTRY SCHEDULE
Sept. 13th at Acorn
Sept. 24th at Mansfield
Sept. 27th at Magazine
Oct. 1st Chile Pepper Nationals
Oct. 4th Acorn/Mena at Mena
Oct. 10th at Idabel
Oct. 22nd at Lake Hamilton
Oct. 27th TBA
Nov. 2nd Regional Meet at Acorn
Nov. 12th State Meet