The Cedar Shoals Cross Country team is moving full speed ahead as new Head Coach Justin Rebitch has high hopes for new faces like freshmen Gabe Bush.
Rebitch was the assistant coach under former head coach David Houghton. They taught together at Howard B. Stroud Elementary School. The third head coach in three consecutive seasons for the cross country team, Rebitch seeks to improve after a disappointing end to last season.
“We are performing the same as last year. We have a young team. That has something to do with it, and for a 5-A school we don’t have that many runners. I believe that there are a lot of good runners in the school who don’t come out,” said Rebitch.
Both the boys and girls teams lack depth this season. There are nine freshmen, five sophomores, two juniors and three seniors on the team this year, and most started either in 8th or 9th grade. A four-year participant, senior Mya McCurry has high hopes for the younger runners.
“If they stay I think they’ll be really good,” said McCurry. “It takes endurance, speed, dedication, but mostly it’s a mental thing.”
Rebitch stressed goal setting early in the season. Most of the runners aim to beat their personal records or improve endurance. Last year sophomore Cam Bush had the fastest PR of the season at 18:11.4.
“Right now we do 45 to 50 minutes a day of long runs,” said Gabe Bush, who clocked an 18:59.50 finish at Riverside Military Academy XC Invitational this year to set a new personal record.
His older brother Cam sees the current training as particularly demanding. These workouts are paying off for Cam Bush who timed 17:29.8, at the Riverside meet, an excellent time for a sophomore runner.
“Coach Rebitch is having us run really difficult drills, and it’s hard but it will get our times faster,” said Bush. “The difference to me is the preparation and about our diets. Coach Rebitch is really into us eating better.”
Last season the team ended last at the GHSA Region 8-AAAAA meet with runners Cam Bush and 2017 graduate Justin Oglesby finishing in the top 25. The bottom three runners on the team were nowhere near as competitive as the top two.
“I think so far we have been performing average, about the middle of the pack when it comes to team scoring,” said Rebitch, seeing improvement from last season’s finish.
At a varsity meet October 14 at Monsignor Donovan Catholic School, Cam Bush came in 4th overall with a time of 19:15.83 and the varsity boys team placed 2nd overall and brought home a trophy. For the girls JV, McCurry ran a 27:38.18 and came 1st overall.
At press time, the Jaguars were finishing preparations for the regional championship meet in Helen, Georgia on October 26. Only the top four teams advance to the state championship.