Area athletes have not been running amok over the summer.
Rather they have been running around Neosho County Community College ahead of the 2019 cross-country and indoor track seasons.
While official practice hasn’t started yet — the first day of practice for cross-country and track student-athletes will be Sept. 9, though cross-country athletes have been fervently running around town over the summer — the local runners participated in boot camp on Thursday.
Second-year coach Noe Hernandez, who organizes both the cross-country and indoor track athletes to train together — said there is a reason why this boot camp is pertinent.
“We are in a boot camp; we do our team practicing all together as a team,” Hernandez, a Texas native, said. “Boot camp what it is; it is just military style and it is them getting used to being a team. Helping each other out and building that team bonding because we are with each other every single day.”
On Wednesday, the Panthers, a cross-country team made up of 10 athletes, were cleared by trainers to embark on the 2019 season. The next day included logistics, including what’s expected in boot camp: drills, dynamic stretching and static stretching.
Players can expect to be engaging in boot camp for the next two weeks, but then will come the real practices the first week of September. On Sept 6, runners will enter Phase 1 Indoor Season.
“Phase 1 is basically just getting them prepared, working — it’s our hardest phase out of the four phases that we do,” Hernandez said. “What it is, it is just building their conditioning, building their strength in the weight room, getting them stronger. And building their muscles, so that (they’ll be ready) when they get into Phase 2, which starts in November.”
Hernandez said the group of athletes needed to work efficiently in preparation for the first cross-country meet on Aug. 30 in Hutchinson and the first indoor track meet on Dec. 6 at Kansas State University.
Patiently waiting for the first official meets after running for much of his youth, Hernandez was a four-year letterman as a cross-country and track athlete at Mission High School in Texas. So he knows what it looks like to have successful tendencies that will go a long way for the upcoming season.
This experienced eye is on his student-athletes.
Hernandez said one team member who has been running diligently is local Chanute High School graduate Reno Lemon, who during his high school tenure qualified and medaled in league and state meets. He said he fully expects Lemon to continue that momentum into his freshman year at college.
Other athletes catching the eye of Hernandez are Brendan Ishimura, Gabe Crawford, Natalie Gonzalez, Alyssa Schulte, Le’Roy Cole III and JD Ray.
All of these athletes are frenetically preparing ahead for the first cross-country meet next week.