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Skyline cross country runners are ready to compete as fall season begins

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Skyline cross country student-athlete Brock McKennon puts on a burst of speed as he heads for the finish line during team-trial practice last week in Pratt.

The Skyline cross country team lost some top runners to graduation last year, but that doesn't mean there won't be some state qualifiers in the hunt this year as the Thunderbirds begin competing.

"We have a smaller team this year, and we lost a few of our faster runners, so we'll be looking for improvement in the runners we have," said coach Mike Neifert.

In addition to the challenge of replacing 2019 standouts, this year's cross country team has had to adjust to COVID-19 safety standards as well.

"Coaches and students are wearing masks on the bus and at meets," Neifert said. "The runners start their races with masks on, but once they are spread out, they are allowed to take them off."

Even with coronavirus precautions in place, Neifert said his team members, like high school athletes in just about any fall sport this year are wondering if they will have a full season.

"The seniors especially are anxious about being able to have Regional and State meets," Neifert said.

All worries aside, the Thunderbirds have been practicing hard and are ready to run in competition. 

"We have a great group of runners with good attitudes. They are working hard and are ready to test themselves on race courses around the area," Neifert said. "Our seniors this year are Jackson Wallace, Keagan Davidson, and Hunter Egging. They all have experience running at State and hope to place at events leading up to the post-season meets."

Wallace has qualified for State and placed in the top 20 every year of his high school career.