The Neosho cross country teams, under head coach Emily Abell and assistant Ethan Murray, open their season next Saturday when they host an open house.
The Wildcats return seniors Cooper Hayes and Nate Wimpey and sophomore Kaden Cole on the boys side and senior Destiny Colston on the girls side. Abell named freshman Jayden Adams as the key newcomer this season.
“Working together as a group,” Abell said of team strengths. “This team is doing a great job of holding each other accountable and working through tough workouts together. They know their goals and are working hard to achieve them.
“Our summer workouts were really great this summer. We had really good weather to work with and had great numbers showing up to put the work in. As a team, we easily put in over 100 miles.
“Kaden Cole has come out strong this season. He put in the time during summer workouts and on his own. That is showing in practices now through his times and mileage. Cooper Hayes has also made some good strides this summer and is working hard to get better this season. Jayden Adams is a freshman who has come in and really stepped up in the harder workouts. She does a great job as a leader and working to get better everyday.”
Neosho finished seventh overall last season in the Central Ozark Conference, and Abell said the Wildcats have a team goal to finish in the top five in the COC. Another team goal: Qualify individuals through sectionals and state.
“We lost several good seniors and we will miss them this season,” Abell said. “The kids know that and know that they are going to have to step up in order to do better than we did last season. We have some gaps to fill, but we also have dedicated athletes who are competing to fill those spots.
“Putting in the time (is key to a successful season). In this sport, it is crucial to put in the time and effort in order to be successful. We are working hard to make sure everyone is at practice and that all teammates are doing their best and meeting their times at practice. Even though this is a different kind of team sport, the team aspect is a very important one and this group is doing a great job of working with that bond.”
The Missouri State High School Activities Association releases classifications and districts for the upcoming season today. Last season, Neosho competed in Class 4, District 6 (largest classification) with Belton, Carl Junction, Carthage, Joplin, Lee’s Summit West, McDonald County, host Raymore-Peculiar, Republic, Smith-Cotton, Warrensburg, Webb City, and Willard.
The COC accounted for six of the schools in that district format.
“Webb City, Nixa, and Carthage always have great teams,” Abell said. “We will see them throughout the season and learn who is who on each team in order to plan our practices and race strategy to work to our advantages.”
2019 NEOSHO CROSS COUNTRY
Aug. 31 — Neosho Open House
Sept. 12 — at Seneca
Sept. 14 — Cottey College Invitational
Sept. 21 — MSSU Stampede
Oct. 1 — at Springfield Catholic
Oct. 5 — East Newton Invitational
Oct. 15 — Central Ozark Conference meet