Panther runners look to stay healthy

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Fall Sports Preview

By Kristin Beck

Staying healthy and being competitive are two of the top goals for Carroll County High School Cross Country, according to Head Coach Joe Creager. Last season, the Panthers were unable to field the five girls and five boys required in order to qualify as a competitive team in some of the meets, due to injuries and other factors.

“This season we are looking to do a lot better,” he said. “We lost two senior boys, but everyone else is back.”

Currently 12 students have either come to practice or have said they are definitely going to participate, Creager said. However, he expects these numbers to go up as the school year begins, especially for the middle school students.

Creager said this will also be the first year elementary school students in third, fourth and fifth grades will be able to participate. He said he hopes this will get more students interested in the sport and will help build the program.

There are different age divisions at cross country competitions, he said. Conference meets have middle school, junior varsity and varsity races, whereas invitational meets may have races for even Kindergarteners. The goal is to have the students participate and compete against those in their same age group, Creager said. 

Creager said anyone who is in the sixth grade or higher could compete as a varsity runner except for during the postseason, regional or state. For those meets, you have to be a seventh grader to compete.

The team largely consists of juniors, and Creager said he will look to them to lead the team. There are also two seniors on the team, Ethan Stewart and Kim Ketterer, however neither participated full-time last year. Stewart split time running and playing football, while Ketterer joined the team late in the season.

Carroll County will be hosting two home meets at General Butler State Resort Park. The first is a conference meet on Sept. 14 with the following schools coming to participate: Gallatin County, Henry County, Owen County, Trimble County, Walton-Verona and Williamstown. The second is the Carroll County Cross Country Cancer Cure Champions meet, held on Oct. 2. Proceeds from the race will benefit the local Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society. Creager said the team is trying to drum up interest in the event and will also be holding a 5K run/walk in conjunction with the race to get adults involved.

“I just really wanted to work with the American Cancer Society and do something like that,” he said. “It’s a lot better and beneficial for cross country than for track because you can have adults participate in a 5K race where it would be awkward for them to participate in a 100 meter dash.”

The Panthers’ first meet of the season is on Aug. 31 at Williamstown.