• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports

Cross country teams get ready for season

On a late July Wednesday evening, it's pouring down sideways and the Woodford County High School cross country team is making its approach to the finish line of practice. As the players make their way into the Huffman Pavilion at the county park, smiles come to faces and Popsicles are handed out. Soggy shoes are a seasonal hazard for these dedicated runners because they all know that Kentucky weather changes by the minute. Words of encouragement can be heard under the pavilion as the cool down starts for the runners, and for Coach Brooke Stickel, the first meet on Aug. 24 is coming fast. "Our boys are looking very strong this year," said Stickel. "We have some great leadership that will help guide the younger runners. It's a long season, but we are hopeful to have a great showing at regions. Our girls will be tough as well, but the boys are more seasoned runners. I completely expect the girls to compete hard and give their all. We have some highly motivated freshman on the girls' side and they can be great if they apply themselves to the program." On the elementary and middle school side, the team is coming together and there is expectation that the team will grow larger as the kids return to school. "Once everyone gets back to school, we usually pick up more kids and the team fills out nicely," said Dr. Phil Latham. "The kids are excited to start up and as long as we have that energy, it should be a fun season ahead." Stickel is in her 10th year as head coach of the Woodford cross country team. Stickel ran cross country for Ohio State and then transferred to the University of Kentucky to run for the Wildcats. Her expertise will help guide these young runners to achieving their goals. "They have trained so hard during the off-season on their own and I'm seeing the results of it," said Stickel. "I try to keep track of their progress during the off-season and we have a points system so they can earn points along the way. The top three earners get to come to camp for free and they all fight for it. Our camp is next weekend and they are always excited to see who gets to come for free." Woodford opens with the "Beat the Heat" event on Aug. 24 at home at 6 p.m.

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