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Hitting the trail
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During a time when most high school students are enjoying the pool and their time off from studies, the Dawson County High School cross country team is putting in several miles a day in anticipation of the upcoming season.

For Dawson County High School Head Cross Country Coach Charles Beusse, his teams are looking to build on the success seen last season.

The Lady Tigers won the Region 7-AAA championship and finished fifth overall in the state, while the boys' team was third in the region and ninth in the state.

Training began in early June for the runners for voluntary workouts. Around 15 runners are attending in the morning and up to 25 runners for the evening session.

"So far, I have been very impressed with what I have seen this month," Beusse said. "I'm very encouraged by these numbers and the work ethic that our runners are showing. I think that the commitment level from the team going into this season is higher than it has ever been and I attribute a lot of that to the success both the men's and women's teams had last year."

Beusse added: "I'm also pleased with how well many of the runners transitioned from track season into cross country conditioning."

Beusse helped coach the distance runners on the schools track team last spring, along with his cross country duties.

"It has been very beneficial to have the opportunity to coach these kids pretty much year round. The runners have tasted success at a high level and they want to do what it takes to get there again this year."

The cross country team practices at 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, through the time may change to 7:30 p.m. soon. The runners also have a morning session at 7:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

The Lady Tigers lost two seniors from last year's region championship team: Taylor Grindstaff and Cassidy Lecours.

Lecours came in eighth place in the region and was named second team all-region.

Returning is a ton of talent, which includes Marley Hamby (third in region; 24th in state; first team all-region); Bailey Cotter (seventh in region; 31st in state; first team all-region); Faith Sinclair (10th in region; second team all-region); Ansley Costley (ninth in region; second team all-region); and Melanie Rimawi (second team all-region).

"Our girls' team looks to be shaping up to be very strong. We only lost two varsity runners last year and we have a couple of freshman girls coming in who I expect to make an immediate impact," Beusse said. "With the improvement and growth of our returning girls, as well as the addition of the incoming freshmen class, the girl's team looks primed to chase another region title and hopefully a spot on the podium at state this year."

The boys' team also has a lot of talent, led by junior Jacob Poston.

He was third overall at the region meet and 31st overall in the state competition in Carrollton.

The junior Tiger is coming off a great track season where he broke the school record in the 1,600-meters and 800-meters.

"I look for Jacob to be a front runner for this year's team," Beusse said.

Garrett Carlisle will provide the senior leadership for this year's team for the Tigers.

"Garrett is having a great summer and should add leadership to our team," said Beusse.

Sophomore Chris Shelp is also going to be a major contributor to this year's squad. Shelp had a great freshman season with a ninth place finish in region and a selection to the second team all-region team.

There are several freshmen that will benefit the team this fall, according to Beusse.

"We are still early into the season, too early for predictions, but these guys may come together with what it takes to win region. That would be huge for our boys program," Beusse said.

The team has been getting a steady diet of easy mileage in training and they have used June to build a base to prepare runners for the harder efforts to come in August, when the season begins.

After the dead week period, the team will begin some workouts within the threshold training range.

"We have really had to battle the heat this year, but we've been lucky enough to only miss a couple of practices due to weather. July will be a big month for us and will be vital in preparing for the season to come," Beusse said.

Beusse will work the Nike Smoky Mountain Camp in mid-July. He will be taking some of the runners from Dawson County High School with him and he hopes that will help motivate and prepare them for the upcoming season.

Official practice begins the first day of school, but any Dawson County High School student interested in participating on this year's team is highly encouraged to come out to the summer practices.