Cross Country area preview: Coaches for local teams discuss their goals for the season

Published 12:53 pm Thursday, July 25, 2019

Fans can expect a few new things in cross country for the 2019 season. Boyle County will have a new coach running the show as John Anderson takes over for Donna Anderson, no relation. Danville Christian Academy, who last year had no varsity runners, will be fielding a young team this year, and will be eligible for postseason races as it looks to break into the KHSAA.

Last year’s girls regional champions will look to repeat this year, while facing strong challenges from teams returning most of their cores from a year ago.


Coach: Bryan Vandiviere (second season at Burgin)

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Last season: Boys team qualified for state: two girls qualified for state.

Returning girls: Rebecca Biggs, Avery Harmon, Kenzie Humber, Ellie Jenkins, Kaylee McCray, Anderson Taylor

Returning boys: John Boursaw, Travis Stewart, Brenden Stanley, Seth Hatfield, Jacobe Taylor

Newcomer girls: Grace Cocanougher

Newcomer boys: Chase Blevins and Marshall Hart.

Strengths: Young, but experienced. “Even with Burgin being such a small school, we are able to provide a program to support over 50+ runners ranging from elementary to high school.  This gives each athlete a chance to practice and be encouraged by the generations ahead of them.”

Weakness: That youth

Team goals: “We are excited to see what all of our runners can achieve this year not just at the meets, but also in personal growth.  Cross Country is not an easy sport, but we have some of the strongest mental and physical athletes around who prove themselves time and time again.”

Outlook for  2019: “It looks to be exciting for us a team.  Our elementary runners are coming into the season with many great wins and finishes at state last year and our returning varsity runners having the experience to shoot for state this year with both the boys and girls teams.”


Coach: Chris Verhoven (ninth year at Danville)

Last season: Girls fifth in region, boys seventh

Returning girls:  Holly Helmers, Kiah Earle, Elise Meaux, Chloe Strysick

Returning boys:  Sam Gibson, Jesse Cummings, Gabe Suarez, Brady Bischoff

Newcomer girls:  Eleanor Levi, Ramona Pierce, Sami Bottom, Lucy Kate Gibson 

Newcomer boys:  Holden McKnight, Iain McAlister, Theo Ungs

Strengths:  Depth. “We have been young for so long, but a lot of the strong middle school team is now on the high school teams.”

Weaknesses:  Leadership void.  “Lost some very strong leaders, but someone will step up, I’m sure of it.”

Team goals: “Always to have fun and promote a lifelong love of running and being part of something bigger than yourself.”

Outlook for 2019: “I’m always excited to see where we will end up.  Always have great kids who give it everything they have.”


Coach: Erin Meyer (third season at DCA).

Returns: No varsity runners last year.

Newcomers girls: Jasmine Pike

Newcomers boys: Noah Meyer, Jake Mattingly, Christian Pennington

Strengths: “We are building our program with a very strong middle and elementary school program as well.”

Weaknesses: No varsity runners from last year. Small school.

Team goals: Entering the KHSAA. “Winning is special and it makes great memories.  My prayer, though, is that the benefits these athletes gain from running will sustain them throughout their lifetimes.  Creating a healthy mind, body and soul while enjoying God’s marvelous creations is priceless.”

Outlook for 2019: Will be available for postseason racing this year. “We give credit to all of the surrounding schools for their support and encouragement.  Being a David among Goliaths is motivating.”


Coach: Jose Pope (second season at LCHS)

Last season: Three girls to made state (McKenzie Settles, Alexis Slone, and Constance Johnson) No boys qualified for state, but a couple came close(Brad Adams and Gabe Singleton)

Newcomer girls: Shayley Reed, Bailey Story, Kaylee Roberts

Newcomer boys: Elijah Johnson, Sebastian Odle, Toby Sallee

Strength: Experience of a big returning class

Weakness: Inexperience of the new runners.

Team goal: “Our main objective is to come out and compete at every meet, and hopefully get a chance at the region title.  Secondly, we want more kids going to state.”

Outlook for 2019:  “We have some very good runners, and we should make some noise this year. This is probably the best group of young men and women that I’ve been associated with in cross country.”


Coach: David Teets (sixth year at Mercer County)

Last season: Girls Regional Champions

Returning girls: Haley Blevins, Clayra Darnell

Returning boys: Cody Curtsinger

Key newcomers: Too early to tell

Strengths: “My varsity girls team is an outstanding bunch of hard working athletes.”

Weaknesses:  “It’s always challenging to bring in new runners especially with middle school.”

Team goals:  “As always my main goal as a coach is to teach my kids that hard work does ‘pay off’. Team goals are always to put forth maximum effort and to improve throughout the season.”

Outlook for 2019: “My outlook for each season is always positive.  The greatest joy from coaching is to watch your players improve and achieve goals.”