ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior cross country coach Reggie Miller has a plan for his runners to compete with the likes of Pinecrest.
He just hopes everything will come together.
Richmond will open its season today at Hinson Lake against Hoke and Purnell Swett.
Miller said his teams will be mainly inexperienced as cross country runners, but added some have competed as runners elsewhere.
“We're young, we got a lot of new runners,” Miller said. “Some of the girls are pretty seasoned, they have been running road races. They are coming in as good a shape as I thought they would be.”
Unlike last season when Miller believed the boys were in a better position to compete with Pinecrest for the Southeastern Conference championship, he thinks the girls will be in the mix this year.
Miller feels he has four runners on the girls team — Cameron Hudson, Kayley Mabe, Shelby Matheson and Summer Moore — who should be near the lead pack in each race.
“We should compete at a very high level,” Miller said. “If they do all that, then everything else will take its place. Not saying we will win a conference championship this year, but I feel like the girls have the heart to compete.”
The boys squad lost its top runner from last year, Brandon Gibson, as well as Darren Conklin, who moved out of state. Miller praised the ability of Brandon Silva.
“I lost my top boy (Conklin) that was coming back this year, he moved to Greer, South Carolina,” Miller said. “He moved but I gained Brandon Silva. When you think about it, I lost one and gained one, so you are back in the same boat you were in, but you wish you still had a Darren Conklin who was right behind BG (Brandon Gibson) last year.”
Miller added it is one of the frustrations he has trying to build a program to compete for conference and regional championships, not being able to keep runners for four years and always seemingly being in the same position each season.
“If every year you keep starting over, you might get kids coming in that never ran before,” Miller said. “They are young and then you are going back and you can never get on the second step of the ladder. You think you are on the second level and then the kids don't come back and then you are back to the first level. You have to go back to the basics again and basically groom them.”
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 and follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.