The new look Lions finished third at the Region 4-AAA meet last Saturday at Clinton Farms led by Scott Anderson, but got plenty of help. Following Anderson's 13th place finish with a time of 18 minutes and 24 seconds Central runners also took 15th through 20th places. In the qualifying times behind Anderson it was Hunter Hughes (18:33), Connor McCray (18:38), Lars Garmen (18:39) and Kyle Green (18:47).
"Extremely excited about the boys making it. They ran the best times at region that they have all year. Proud of five of my guys getting in at 18 [minutes], two at 19, two on the JV team getting 18 and two more at 19. They just ran really good on Saturday. I told them we weren't go in just to run, we were going to compete," Central coach Montrell McClendon said.
Last year Central finished 16th in the state led by Beau Hughes and Matthew Balte. Losing both those runners to graduation McClendon knew the team would have to have a different approach this year. Rather than being able to rely on those two picking up top spots the whole team would have to run together and a little faster.
That's what they did.
"I told the guys last year, the way they were running, they were going to have to run closer together [this year]. All of the guys are going to have to move down to faster times together to compete," McClendon said. "They went in and were excited. They ran great times. I think our last week of practice was really good and expected us to get a state team."
Along with the boys senior Anna Leah Deese also qualified individually on the girls side. Deese took fourth place overall in the region meet and will wrap up her career where it should, at the state meet.
"I'm excited about Anna Leah making it as well. It's her senior year and she's been one of the anchor athletes the last three years in getting the team to state. She's been doing her part and I would have liked the whole team to have made it, but I'm glad she made it in to round out her four years of making it to state every year," McClendon said.
Deese has shown her growth at each state meet. Her freshman year she finished 38th, then 36th two years ago and 27th last year.
As for the boys team, they have set themselves up for a strong finish to the 2012 season.
"I think it was just time for each one to start peaking. I don't think we ran our best time [yet]. They're starting to peak at the right time. Just listening to them talk they feel really good, really strong and that they have more in them, even after the [region] race. I think we should have a really good race at the end of the season," McClendon said.