Royal Valley Cross Country Preview
The Royal Valley Panther cross country team is in its second year with head coach Nathan Smith.
Last year in his first year as head coach, the Panther girls team finished in sixth place at the Big 7 League meet and the boys finished in fourth place. Coach Smith is in his 12th year coaching overall.
Smith also had one runner compete at the Class 3A state cross country meet last season – Nue Tinajero, who is back on the team this year as a junior.
Coach Smith is assisted by Thomas Broxterman. There are 30 runners on the high school team this year and 13 middle school runners.
Besides Tinajero other returning letter winners for the Panthers this season are - senior Devon Hale, junior Judson Mathis, sophomore Jack Wiedman, junior Holden Mundy, senior Zach Wahwoetten and junior Chloe Richter.
The coach also said that junior Stiles Travis and freshmen Calvin Ogden and Antonio Hopkins could help the boys team as well this year.
“Chloe (Richter) would have went to state last year, except an injury that sidelined her for a month,” coach Smith said. “There are high expectations for her this year. We also return all but one runner from last year for the girls and quality freshmen Catrina Smith and Lily Cannon. Senior Emily Albright is a new runner this year who could help us as well.”
The keys to the Panthers’ success this year will be depth for the boys team and avoiding injuries for the girls, the coach said.
“We have 10 guys who could be in the top five behind Mundy and Tinajero,” Smith said. “The key will be to find a solid two and three.”
On the girls side, the coach said, the Panthers don’t have depth but they do have some freshmen who could “surprise” us this year.
The Panthers’ first meet is Thursday, Aug. 30 at Jeff West. The meet will be held at the Shawnee North Community Center.