A state championship back in November seems like a long time ago to the Decatur Eagles. The team has been working hard over the hot summer months to prepare themselves to defend their title this fall.
“I’m a big believer that each team has its own kind of entity,” Decatur coach David Park said. “We have some new ingredients this year mixing with the old to formulate some new goals.”
Decatur lost Travis Kyle, Daniel and Michael Smyers off last year’s state title team to graduation. Competition will be tough to fill those three voids.
“Six or seven have a shot to take ownership of those spots,” Park said.
Senior Taylor Clayton is excited to take hold of the leadership role this season. He’s coming off a third-place finish at the state meet a year ago.
“I’m a little ahead of schedule this year,” Clayton said. “I think I’m running better right now than I was at the end of last year.”
Austin Poole, Brandon Rivera and Travis Wilson should also make huge impacts this fall.
A lot of experience returns for the Lady Eagles in 2013. After five straight years on the podium stand, Decatur should be in great shape to make a run for a state title of their own this season.
All seven runners are back, and Haley Dennard is returning to cross country for her senior campaign.
“On the girls side I’m really pleased,” Park said. “All are back and have been really consistent this summer.”
Junior Nicole Neighbors led the way at the state meet last year with a seventh-place finish helping the Lady Eagles capture third.
Jessica Kyle, Nancy Torres, Morgan Haney, Hope Fuller and Paolo and Georgina Palomo also all return looking for the program’s sixth straight state medal.