The Yukon girls cross country season is getting closer to starting with each day that passes. The Millerettes will open the season at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at the Paul Parent Jamboree at Woodson Park in Oklahoma City.
Yukon will compete in the Alumni/Community Run at 6 p.m. Thursday and the Canadian County Cross Country Clash at 3:45 p.m. Monday at Yukon High School against Mustang.
Yukon coach Rodney Zimmerman has high hopes for his team this fall.
“Practice has gone well,” Zimmerman said. “Summer practices, we had good numbers. Most of it was younger runners that worked hard. The future looks good. As far as practice right now, we are just getting going since school started and we have a long way to go to get everyone into condition to compete at a high level.”
Zimmerman mentioned several girls who will need to step up for his team this season.
“Those returning varsity runners from last year need to be leaders,” Zimmerman said. “We have Elora Jones, Asley Baker, Peyton Brenneis, Lauren Brown and Savannah Yancy all back from last year’s team that qualified for the state meet. They know it is tough and they hopefully want to go back again and finish higher in the placing. I don’t want them leading with words. I want them to lead by actions and come out and work hard at practice and come to meets ready to run. I want them to be good examples of what all of young runners have to do to be prepared for the regional and state races.”
Zimmerman discusses how he plans to get his team performing its best in the stretch run of the season.
“Judging by what I have seen the first two days of practice, many of the girls will not have the conditioning that I had hoped they would have at this point,” Zimmerman said. “I would expect the times to be off from what we would like them to be in the first few meets. Mentally, it is hard when you struggle in races, but many of them probably will. From a coaching standpoint, we are going to work with them to set realistic goals that they are ready to meet for the first several meets. Basically, using them as practice meets. They are to help learn how each individual runner needs to run a race as well as how to race against other teams. When you get to the regional, you have to be ready to run well, so you can qualify to be one of the 14 schools to move on to state. We have done that three-out-of-the-last four years and want to continue to do that. As we go through the next several weeks, we will see a change in their conditioning and as we go through the first several meets, I think we will get it worked out and be where we want to be.”
Zimmerman said there are many areas that need improvement at this point.
“I think you hit it when you asked about leaders,” Zimmerman said. “We need some of the girls to get excited about competing. When I was a kid, I just needed to know we were competing at something and I was in. Competing is fun and that’s where we need to be mentally. I heard a Joe Namath quote last weekend and when I heard it, I felt it summed up what the girls need this season and as they go beyond cross country and into everyday life. ‘When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun and when you have fun, you can do amazing things.’ I think this is true, how you compete changes when you have fun doing what you are doing. Running isn’t easy, but you can have fun doing things that aren’t easy and when you start doing well at them, it just makes it more fun.”
Zimmerman talked about what it will take for his team to have success in 2018.
“Again, the girls are going to have to have fun and enjoy themselves,” Zimmerman said. “If they are having a good time, they can compete better and that’s what athletics comes down to, on the day of competition. It’s kind of an ironic name when teams meet up and go against each other in ‘competition’. You’re supposed to go out and ‘compete’ against other teams. If they will go compete and have fun doing it, we will have a successful season.”