BV looks to improve on second-place finish in 2016
The Berryville Lady Bobcat cross country team is coming off a second-place finish at the Class 4A state championships last year. Each of Berryville’s top five runners return, and coach Andrew Killingsworth is excited about this year’s prospects.
"The girls are definitely a bright spot this year," Killingsworth said. "I return all of my top runners and it's a big group of senior girls. On paper, they have what it takes. They are picked to win it again on paper, but I don't trust paper anymore. I have had a team the last four years that have been picked to win it on paper and then we get to state and we have gotten runner-up every year. These girls have the wherewithal to do it."
The boys graduated nine seniors from a year ago. The Bobcats only return one senior in Daniel Portillo. Killingsworth is still convinced they will be able to bounce back thanks to many of his young, impressive runners, such as Braden Scrivner.
"We have a strong group of freshmen that are coming up," Killingsworth said. "They will be running junior high for a good chunk of the year just to get their confidence up. They are a competitive group and they will be a force to be reckoned with in junior high for sure. And then toward the end of the year, we will be moving them on up to get that state experience. Early on, we might fly under the radar but toward the end of the year our senior high team should pick up and really tear it up."
The Lady Bobcats are going to the Woodbridge Classic in September. Killingsworth and the Lady Bobcats are getting excited for the opportunity to go to California.
"They are already looking at that meet, thinking we have to go perform," Killingsworth said. "They don't want to go out there and get destroyed. It's a big meet, but as far as finishing is concerned, we will probably finish in the middle of the pack because there are so many elite teams there. They will have to step their game up for sure."
After finishing runner-up for three consecutive years, Killingsworth has decided to change the practice structures.
"The fundamentals haven't changed, but some of the workout structures, I have changed up," Killingsworth said. "They are a little more hard and rigorous. They require a little more out of the runner, but so far no one has complained. They have commented on how the workouts are harder this year, but no one has complained about any of the workouts. That is a testament to their hard work and spirit. There are a few secret things we are mixing in, but at the end of the day, it's just good old-fashioned get out there and run hard."
Killingsworth said a big part of the workouts is getting his team to practice as hard as possible.
"We are trying to get their heart rate up as high as possible," Killingsworth said. "If we can push them harder than they think they can go in practice and get them to believe in practice, then they will be ready when the meet comes up. How you practice is how you will race. If you give half effort in practice then you will give half effort in the meet. Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. We practice every day like it's the state championship."
With the season starting in less than three weeks, Killingsworth hopes to see the Bobcats become more competitive.
"A number of things can go wrong during a race, but during the race and during practice, if I can see that competitive glare in their eyes, I know we are on track and we are going to be fine," Killingsworth said.
Berryville had a team retreat near Oak Grove this weekend. Killingsworth said this was a great bonding opportunity for his team.
"We do a night run and just a lot of team-building activities," Killingsworth said. "I preach this all the time. I will take any kid that wants to run. You give me someone with talent or someone who is a good teammate, I will take the one who is a good teammate any day because you can get talent that is cancer to the team. What happens on these team retreats is it bonds all of the kids together. There were definitely some connections made over the weekend and some heart-to-heart conversations. It's always a powerful experience for these kids. They really come out respecting each other more."
Berryville's first cross country meet is Saturday, Sept. 2 in Springdale.