Coach Bryan Poepperling said the team lost some key seniors to graduation but he still thinks the returning group can succeed.
“The runners this year have practiced with more intensity because they know they have shoes to fill. We will be a stronger team this year because we have a good core of runners who are committed to the goals we have set as a team.”
Key runners include Juan Puente, a junior; Troy Evans, a sophomore; and Selena Gonzales, a senior.
The Tigers will compete in a district with Immokalee, Lely and LaBelle. The toughest test will be the Disney Wide World of Sports meet. This event attracts schools from across the country.
“Skill levels of the runners there will be off the charts,” Poepperling added.
Poepperling said the girls team has a lot of new runners but he is very impressed with the improvement some of the younger runners have shown so far this year.
“If it doesn’t challenge you, then it doesn’t change you. Ninety percent of the sport of running is mental and 10 percent physical. If you think you can, you are more than halfway there,” he stated.
The boys team lost five top runners who will be very difficult to replace. Poepperling said this also creates an opportunity for younger runners.
“It is exciting because the younger guys have a chance to step up and become leaders.”
The team’s strengths include great focus and commitment to improvement. A weakness so far has been mental stamina.
Two Tiger alumni are now running for college teams. David Adams will be running for Flagler University, and Javier Del Rosario will be running for Florida Atlantic University.
Westside Elementary School art teacher Megan Sowers has joined the team as assistant coach this year. Poepperling said she has had a great impact on the runners.
“She will undoubtedly provide major help to our girls team the entire year. Great things are ahead for her in her role as coach.”
The community can help the Tiger cross-country team by coming to a yard sale that will be take place in front of Clewiston High School on Saturday, Aug. 19. Team members and supporters will also have a car wash on Saturday, Aug. 26, at Advance Auto Parts in Clewiston.
Coach Poepperling thanked both the high school administration and the parents for all the support they have shown over the years.
Key meets this year include the home meet scheduled for Aug. 28, at the Clewiston Golf Course at 5 p.m.; the Moore Haven meet, on Sept. 14th and Sept. 28 at 5 p.m.; and the 12-2A district meet, on Oct. 27 at Lely High School in Naples.