Cross Country cubs make strides
Season may yield state qualifiers
Often overshadowed by other fall sports, the Monett cross-country team has quietly set out on a path that has allowed it, as a team, to improve over each of the last three seasons.
Kelly George, Monett coach, deserves credit on two key fronts for the program’s growth and increasing success. First, George pushed for the creation of a middle school cross-country program.
With Monett athletes being exposed to the sport earlier, training and growth can occur before they become freshmen. The proof is in the team’s improved numbers. The cross-country program is only a few seasons removed from varsity roster numbers that totaled in the single digits. Now, the varsity runners number more than 20.
Secondly, George has created an environment where athletes want to run for her and the program. With four All-Conference runners last season, plus a state qualifier, the Cubs and Lady Cubs a poised for even high achievements this year.
“I think our girls have a great chance of competing at the top in our conference,” George said. “We are returning a great group of girls and have several freshmen that will help our team scores. Our boys will definitely be better this year with the varsity experience they gained last season. I think both teams will need to work on packing up and running together to push each other out of comfort zones. I am excited to see this group of runners compete this year. I know we have some natural leaders and some great followers who will make this a great season.”
Returning for Monett this season are seniors Kaylee George, Jackie Montelongo, Naiam Perez, Erick Lorenzo-Diaz and Brandon Puente.
Kaylee George earned Second Team All-Conference honors last season.
“Kaylee was running well to start the summer but had a tonsillectomy and is in recovery,” George said. “I look for Kaylee to continue where she left off last year and run some good times her senior year.”
Montelongo also garnered Second Team All-Conference accolades with a strong finish to her season.
“Jackie ran really well at the end of last season,” George said. “I’m looking for her to step up and compete at a high level all season.”
Junior thinclads Alyssa Williams and Santiago Granados also return this season.
Williams was a First Team All-Conference selection last year.
“Alyssa has been working hard all summer and has several goals for this season,” George said. “She just missed qualifying for state last year. Alyssa ran very well for her first year on the cross-country team. She is a very determined kid and I can’t wait to watch her run this season.”
Granados also took home First Team All-Conference accolades and was the team’s lone state qualifier.
“Santiago is in really good shape and has already improved from last season,” George said. “He is running at a faster pace and is really working to get back to state again this year.”
Sophomores Chris Simmons, Gavin Bailey and Spencer Bryand all ran as freshmen and give the team much needed depth.
New to the squad this season are: Maddi Coones and Joseph Hill, juniors; McKay Hill, sophomore; Kaity Ingle, Kaia Johnson, Sydney Parrigon, Emily Shaw, Jennifer Hurst, Mary Martinez, Daniela Hernandez and Gabby Zengotita, freshmen.
Monett opens the season on Sept. 2 in Bolivar.