Their numbers may be down, but Upper Perk High School cross country is gearing up to be a force to be reckoned with this season.
The team, 15 in number on the boys’ side and seven on the girls’ side, has been training hard for its upcoming season with practices throughout the summer.
“We are struggling with numbers right now due to injuries,” explained Head Coach Todd Niemann. “We’ll have a tough beginning of the season, I’m sure, but if we can get healthy, I like this team to be very competitive at the end of the season.”
On Aug. 21 the cross country team had a scrimmage against Souderton. The boys had a first-place finish from junior runner Jacob Keiper with a time of 18:05. The next Upper Perk boy to finish was Jack Donahue, coming in fifth with a time of 19:13.
In the girls’ race, Rachel Landis was the first Upper Perk runner to finish, placing third with a time of 22:58. Jamie Homan was the next Upper Perk girl to complete the race, coming in sixth with a time of 25:10.
“Success in running is a very personalized effort,” Landis said. “Goals can range from simply running the entire race to running fast enough to qualify for the state championship race up in Hershey in November – it’s all up to you.”
Throughout the season, the runners have their own personal goals they set for themselves.
“Making states has been a personal goal of mine,” Landis said, “but I’m always excited to see what we can do as a team."
Niemann said that the team tries to “win as many medals as we can, run a faster time each race, and for some, medal at the championship meets and put themselves in a position to qualify for states.”
“Coach Niemann is the driving force of the team, as he should be,” Landis said. “He’s the head coach, assistant coach, team consolidator and mentor.”
Cross country team members head forward with high hopes for what the rest of their season has in store.
“Unfortunately, this year’s girls’ team is smaller than it has been in the past,” said Landis, “but I know each of the girls has great potential and I can’t wait to see them all succeed.”