Oxford cross-country set to start season at Brooks Twilight

Published 5:59 am Thursday, August 23, 2018

Once the state meet was over last November, Oxford head coach Chris Patton started taking notes on what his teams needed to do to get better. After one season in Class 6A, the Chargers hit the offseason to get bigger, faster and stronger.

The 2018 season begins on Sept. 1, but Patton has had a productive preseason since practice officially began on July 30.

“We feel pretty good heading into the season,” Patton said. “One thing we’ve been doing in the offseason is strength and conditioning. We’re definitely a lot stronger to start the season. A lot of the girls came back and told me that their legs feel stronger. The timed runs that we’ve had have been faster this preseason than in any other preseason. We’ll lace up next weekend and see what happens.”

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The boys’ team narrowly missed out on the podium, finishing fourth at the state meet in Clinton. The girls’ team finished in 10th place. During the meet, Patton felt both of his teams shut down early in the race. The motto this season for Oxford is finishing, and the time in the weight room went towards that goal.

It was Oxford’s first year in 6A, but it was not their first time running against some of the state’s top schools. Cross country is a sport where most teams race one another on a near weekly occurrence at regular season meets.

One issue that could also attribute to Oxford’s finish last season was the youth of the team. This year is also a young team with a handful of seniors.

Addie Thompson, Katelyn Rock and Liana Logan will be the anchors on the girls’ side. Walt Johnson, Luke Johnson and Malik Lawson will be the workhorses on the boys’ side.

“This year we know where we are and what we have to do,” Patton said. “Even though we’re young, a lot of that youth has competed last year in the state championship. They know what to expect. I think both (teams) will improve just because of having that experience.”

As they do every season, Oxford will kick the year off at the Brooks Memphis Twilight XC Classic. The meet is hosted by Christian Brothers University and held at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex in Memphis at 8 p.m. on Sept. 1.

The event is drawing in over 80 high school and collegiate teams to run in what is one of the top national meets in the early part of the season. Schools from eight states ranging from Missouri to Louisiana and places in between will compete.

“One reason we go to that race is at the time it’s one of the biggest races in the country,” Patton. “So we get a chance to see a lot of great competition in the South. When we come back and run our regular meets in the season, we’ve already ran against people a lot faster, a lot stronger than we are.”