By Bob Snell
A group of 25 runners – 19 boys and six girls – gathered outside Virgin Valley High School on a hot, humid evening last week for the first official cross-country team trial.
The strong turnout was a welcome sight for VVHS head coaches Marianne Leavitt and Don Rappleye.
“We only had two girls last year, so it was nice to see so many outings,” Leavitt said. “We also hope to have a few more who want to come and race with us.”
“I think that’s maybe the biggest number of boys we’ve had,” added Rappleye. “It’s good!”
While cross-country isn’t for everyone, it’s not just about showing up and racing the track.
“We go out and walk our trails,” Rappleye said. “We like to mix things up and make it interesting for kids.”
It’s not just one particular lesson they take either.
“We have a course that we like to run in Bunkerville and another at the sports complex,” Leavitt said. “Each course has different terrain.”
Several athletes trained alone over the summer.
“We’ve had a few kids who ran 40 miles a week,” Rappleye said. “They are committed and they really want to win.”
The top returning runner for VVHS this season is Jenna Walters. The junior finished second in the 1,600 meters and third in the 3,200 meters at the state track meet in May.
“Jenna is a great runner,” Leavitt said. “She has a personal drive and just wants to improve.”
There will also be a trio of freshman girls – Zoey Didrickson, Grace King and Yamila Vega-Archuleta.
On the boys side, eight returning runners are led by seniors Drew Maxfield, Owen Rappleye and Travis Terry. They will form a strong core for the Bulldogs. The others are junior Gavin Hughes as well as sophomores Isaac Greive, Max Hughes, Jesus Sandoval and Oliver West.
“They’re all great kids,” Rappleye said. “I like working with them. We are having a lot of fun. »
The first meet for VVHS will be on August 27 at the Red Rock Running Company Invitational at Floyd Lamb State Park in Las Vegas.
“The course is two to 2.5 miles, which is a bit shorter than most of our competitions,” Leavitt said. “It’s a good course to get some of our kids used to running again.
VVHS will host two fixtures this fall – Oct. 19 at the Mesquite Sports and Events Complex and the Virgin Valley Invitational Oct. 22 at Thomas Dudley Park in Bunkerville.
Cross-country skiing program
August 27 7 a.m. Red Rock Inv.
Sept. 10 7 a.m. Larry Burgess Inv.
Sept. 17 8 a.m. MVHS Pirate Inv.
Sept. 28 3:30 p.m. Rancho weekdays
Oct. 1 TBA CSN Inv.
October 8 TBA Bud O’Dea 9-10 Classic
October 11 3:30 p.m. MVHS weekdays
October 19 3:30 p.m. VVHS weekdays
Oct. 22 8 a.m. VVHS Bulldog Inv.
October 28 Regionals
Bold Nov. 5 State Championship home games
Schedule subject to change without notice