ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior cross country coach Reggie Miller says he finishes everything he mentions to his teams with “We are committed to excellence.”
Miller means what he says.
Despite being in the same conference with a strong Pinecrest program, Miller believes his squads can battle for and possibly even capture Southeastern Conference titles this season.
“I think the boys and girls have a strong chance to win this year,” Miller said. “I hope we have a good season and compete for a conference championship. We hope to make it to the regional meet. But our first goal is to compete for the conference championship. We are going to take it one step at a time on the ladder.
“With Pinecrest we have to be on our A-game because they will push you. You may have three or four runners that will run pretty well, but with them they will have eight or nine.”
Leading the charge for the boys team is Randy Altman, who finished eighth in last year’s conference meet and earned all-conference honors. Miller said Altman was ahead of the pack for the majority of the SEC meet before being overtaken at the two-mile mark.
Christian Smith and Donyell Miller, the coach’s son, are also expected to show the way for the Raiders.
“I need five guys to step up and do well at each meet,” Miller said. “I have three, but I need two more guys.”
Miller said there have been a few runners that have caught his eye since the beginning of practice that could fill the fourth and fifth positions.
“Newcomer Maurice O’Neal is a converted soccer player that is running right there with Donyell and Christian,” Miller said. “He’s improved so much since he came out and he’s a workhorse, I wish he came out last year. Mike Quick has also improved his time too. Freshman Cody Mabe is another soccer player converted to running.”
Marie Collins and Morgan Tedder top the list of returning runners for the girls’ team. Collins finished 18th in the conference meet, while Tedder crossed the line in 24th place.
Miller also believes Hannah Roberts and Belle Hillenburg are poised to have good finishes this season.
“Hannah has really improved from last year,” Miller said. “She has improved so much she is now running with Morgan and Marie. She might be my top runner this year.”
Just like the boys team, Miller is looking for a fifth runner to join the other four in running consistently.
“Jenna Sedberry is an outstanding athlete, she improved a whole lot,” Miller said. “Her timed run last week was two minutes faster than her last race last year. She’s very coachable and works hard. I call her the silent killer.”
Miller is also excited to have five ninth-graders on his girls team, which he believes will be key to helping maintain the program over the next few seasons.
“I will be able to have them for four years,” Miller said. “I told them if they stick with it, they may have a chance at a state championship. I think they are going to be a factor this year.”
Richmond opens its season at home at 5 p.m. Tuesday with a meet with Purnell Swett, Hoke and Scotland County at Hinson Lake.
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