With a pair of younger rosters, the Laramie cross country teams will be looking for steady improvement through the 2020 season.

Both LHS teams finished in fifth place at the state championships last year. Neither returns a runner that placed in the top 15. Senior Libby Berryhill was 18th in the girls’ 5K race, while senior Tristan Fraley is the top returning boy, and he placed 28th at the state meet last fall.

Head coach Greg Schabron is in his 13th year leading the Laramie program. He saw his team compete for the first time in 2020 at last Friday’s KW Beartrap Invitational on Casper Mountain. The highlight was Berryhill won the girls’ race, while both teams came in third place.

Schabron said they were just happy to be able to race.

“The kids, overall, as a team underperformed but we had some great (individual) performances. Libby Berryhill winning varsity girls and made it look easy… on the guy’s side, we have a lot more depth than shown at the race, and the girls, we were running two girls short on varsity, so ultimately, we’re not too worried about that. The kids’ training’s been going great, but we’re anxious to get some meets that actually show what these kids are capable of, and how much work they’ve been putting in.”

He wants to see them race again before getting any sense of their overall outlook.

Schabron said the Sheridan and Kelly Walsh boys look strong, while he knows the Natrona and Cheyenne Central girls’ teams are good.

“It’s going to take a lot longer to figure out what teams have simply because of smaller meets. We might not see them for a while, and then when we do see ‘em, scores are broken up a lot different when you throw the entire state in the mix.”

Schabron looks to Berryhill to lead the girls’ team, while senior Ted Rittle is leading the Plainsmen.

There are 42 kids out for cross country this fall at LHS. It breaks down to 18 girls and 24 boys. Eight of them are seniors with six of them being boys.

Schabron was okay with Laramie not performing at its best on the opening weekend.

He said, “I think a lot of teams have kind of written Laramie off as very competitive. Well, we’ve got a lot of young girls that are hungry, also. They push each other because they want to move up, and they don’t want to be one-upped. It’s friendly team competition but it’s what elevates the team to the level we’d like to see ‘em at here in the next couple of weeks.”

Schabron said with the boys’ team, “Most of the front-runners are sophomores and juniors. We’ve got some new kids that have moved in… I think they’re still trying to figure out how to combine everything as a team, but when it comes to their talent and fitness, they’ve got that where they need to at this point, so we aren’t worried about that.”

Thanks to the virus, cross country meets are limited in the total number of participants in one race. Schabron admitted it’s been a big adjustment.

“Bottom line, I think everybody’s glad to be back. It’s taking a lot more time to try to find meets, and when a meet gets dropped, to try to fill those, and if we can’t have kids race one week, we’re trying to find other things. If you can adapt and adjust, I think the team that can do that best is gonna be great.”

He closed with how happy he is to see kids get a chance to do something they love. “It’s well worth it.”

Laramie cross country will compete in its second meet at Douglas on Saturday.

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