Augusta Cross Country Begins 2023 with Limited Roster


               After cross country sign-ups in May, Augusta’s high school program had nine varsity boys signed-up to run this season, following its historic stretch of two region championships and a region runner-up finish over the last three years.  Due to a variety of circumstances, however, the roster stood at three when practice began in July.  Having fewer than five runners means the team will not have the opportunity to place as a team in meets.

               “As a coach, it’s disappointing when you think you’re going to have solid numbers for the upcoming season and then you don’t, but I’m more disappointed for the ones who are left, because not having the full team certainly changes what you can achieve and the dynamics of the program,” Augusta Coach Tim Litteral said.

The Augusta High School and Middle School cross country teams opened the 2023 season by traveling across the river to the Ripley Invitational.

               Sophomore John Hamm opened the season with a 5K time of 22:09.  Junior Noland Young ran 22:30.  The pair finished in the top half of the 84 runners who competed. 

               “We’ve been pretty cautious starting out with John both in terms of training and mileage,” Coach Litteral said.  “John sustained an injury in a basketball game last January and wasn’t cleared to run until early July.  We were fortunate that was actually a few weeks earlier than expected, but with him going nearly six months with no running and really not being able to do much physical activity at all, we want to be careful.  With missing track season, this was his first competitive race since the state meet last October.”

               “I’ve been methodical about Noland’s training as well,” Litteral continued.  “Noland actually ended the cross country season last year with an injury we weren’t aware of.  He doesn’t run track, so while he runs some on his own, he hasn’t trained consistently since last season.  Our first goal is to keep our athletes healthy, so we’re trying to build him a solid base and not have a repeat of last year.  For both Noland and John, we’re focused more on a healthy October than what we do in races right now.”

               One notable name missing from the results is Grayson Miller.  The junior, who is the defending individual region champion, is currently out with two stress fractures and after a few weeks of rest, hopes to return in mid-September.

               “Grayson noticed some pain that wasn’t going away, so we stopped running him after July 31, and a doctor’s visit a week later revealed what was wrong,” Litteral said. “I hate it for Grayson because I felt like he was in a great spot in his fitness level and training, but hopefully this rest allows a full recovery and when he returns, we can get him built back up and ready to defend that individual region title.”

               Augusta also has two middle school runners who competed in the K-6 race at Ripley.  While official times weren’t received for the race, Hugh Miller finished the mile race in approximately 8:40, while Will Hildebrand finished in about 10:33.

               The team will have the Labor Day weekend off and return to action September 09 at the Mason County Invitational.