First year head coach Charles Beusse has big shoes to fill. The former Dawson County High School graduate has been named head coach of the Tiger cross country team.
Beusse will teach at Dawson County Middle School where he will serve as an eighth grade reading teacher, as well as a special education teacher in both math and language arts.
The former Tiger ran cross country and track at the University of North Georgia. He served as team captain and ran under Georgia Track and Cross Country Hall of Fame Coach Thomas Williams.
"I attribute much of my running knowledge to Coach Williams," Beusse said.
Beusse's mother, Edith, is an educator in the Dawson County School System. His sister, Emily, is currently a track and cross country athlete at UNG.
Beusse comes into a rich history of cross country success at Dawson County High School. Former coach Brian DeRose, who resigned to take a position at Lambert High School, regularly led his girls and boys team to the state meet.
Last year the girls' team finished in 16th place at the state meet while the boys team finished ninth overall.
Beusse said he is very excited to step into the role of coach.
"The idea of coaching is something I've always held in the back of my mind for once my own running career ended. I'm fortunate to inherit a team from Coach DeRose which has been successful in years past. It definitely makes the transition into coaching easier for me.
"I think the biggest asset I bring into coaching is that as a high school and collegiate runner, I tried to be a student of the sport. I'm a big believer in runners knowing why they are doing a workout and how it's going to lead to some positive physiological change. I think the fact that I love studying the sport of distance running as much as I enjoy participating in it has been very beneficial and given me a good knowledge base despite my young age," he said.
Beusse said he has high expectations for this year's team.
"I have very high expectations for both the boys and girls team this year. I've stressed to all the runners that success in running comes from commitment and hard work. Personally, I want to see both my teams compete well at region and place ourselves in a good position to qualify for state. On a larger scale, I want this season to set the stage for things to come. I see lots of potential in many of the team's younger runners.
"If they dedicate themselves to this sport for the next few years and look at the success our upperclassmen are currently having, I believe we can expect to see big things from DCHS cross country in the next few years," he said.
The team has had anywhere from 15-35 runners who have participated in summer training workouts. "Overall we've had more girls out there, but we have a solid group of boys who have been committed to improving this summer," Beusse said.
On the girls' team, Beusse will rely heavily on a strong group of juniors led by Cassidy Lecours and Taylor Grindstaff.
"Cassidy has shown commitment and leadership this summer. Taylor, despite battling injuries, has shown qualities of leadership as well," he said.
Dylan Forester returns this season for the boys' team.
Forester placed in ninth place at the state meet last November in Carrollton.
"If Dylan stays committed to the style of training I introduce him to this season, he can put himself in a position to do even better this year," Beusse said.
The boys' team will also feature runners Avery Cowart, Mason Carr, Brandon Barker, Doug O'Brien and Nathan Shelp.
Beusse will have help this year from assistants John Lundy and George Graves. Beth Hamby will work closely with the middle school development program as will Eddie Roberts, who is a new addition to the staff.
Time trials will be held Aug. 16 at Rock Creek Park. The time trials will decide the members of the varsity squad for the first meet.
The Tigers first meet will be held on Aug. 24 at Chattahoochee Point Park in Suwanee. The varsity boys will kick off the event at 8 a.m.
First day of mandatory practice will begin following the first day of school Thursday.
"I think that so far my teams have put themselves in a good position for a successful season. I have high hopes for many of our younger runners, as well as our veterans. I have focused on incorporating a long run into training each week which I believe has benefited many runners. Likewise, I've had runners working heavily this summer on strength and core work, which I believe will benefit us greatly and hopefully aide in efficient running form and injury prevention," Beusse said.