LIBERTY — Experience is the name of the game for the 2019 Liberty North cross country squad.
The Eagles bring back nearly all of their top runners at the varsity level. Six of Liberty North’s seven female state runners return this season, while all seven varsity boys returners are back from last year’s sectional squad.
“They’ve been working pretty hard all summer,” Eagles coach Dave Chatlos said. “We have a lot of promise, so it is pretty exciting.”
Senior Elizabeth Stinson returns to lead the Liberty North girls, who placed 10th at state and won conference last season. Stinson placed 19th in the state meet.
“She’s been the leader in workouts for awhile. On her own she’s pushed herself to a level we haven’t seen from her,” Chatlos said. “She brings a level of ambition to the table that not many athletes do. The nice thing is that she’s surrounded by a heck of a team.”
Those teammates are seniors Alexandra Fisher and Shelby Johnson, juniors Kirsten Johnson, Brooke Ware and Kaylee Smith and sophomore Averi Overcast.
“It’s hard to lower expectations,” Chatlos said. “I think they expect a lot out of themselves. All we really ask is to give it their all.”
Freshman Abby Hedges and junior Hailie Weiman are pushing for varsity time, as well, Chatlos said.
Junior Sam Travis and sophomore Ethan Lee are back to lead a boys squad that Chatlos says is dedicated to bringing the Eagles their first state appearance since joining the big class.
“They run together so they’ll be a strong one-two punch,” Chatlos said. “Time will tell but I think they’ll be more competitive. A year of growth is big but on top of that is just the experience. They kind of know what works now.”
Also in the mix are: senior Jake Lewis; juniors Luis Perez, Dylan Duncan, Justin King, and JJ House; and freshman Grayson Tapp.
“I feel like we’ve bought in more than we ever have,” Chatlos said. “They’re trusting what we’re doing. Not that we haven’t in the past, but this group is extremely bought in.”Liberty North will once again team up to host the second annual Tim Nixon Invitational, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 7 on the Wildflower cross country course in Liberty.
This year the invite has added 30 teams and will have a junior varsity division, Chatlos said. And, for most squads, it’ll be the first actual competition of the season.
“It’s exciting,” Chatlos said. “I don’t think they should be nervous with the experience we have.”