While football workouts officially began on Wednesday, the Tullahoma High School and Middle School cross-country teams will officially begin practices Monday, starting at 9 a.m.
Those practices will get underway with a new head coach, as Jeff Lester has officially taken over the reins of the programs. Lester’s assistant this coming season will be Jason Welch, who is head coach of the Tullahoma boys’ basketball team.
“I’m really excited,” Lester said. “We’ve got some up and coming runners. I’m really excited about this cross-country season like usual.”
Prior to taking over as the head cross-country coach, Lester spent the last eight years as an assistant under Chris Clemens, who resigned from his post in May. So heading into this year, he has plenty of familiarity with his returning runners.
“It always helps to be familiar with the situation that you’re stepping into,” Lester said. “Our middle school program has been on the rise, especially on the girls’ side. We are trying to get the boys to follow suit at the middle school level.”
One key development for cross-country, has been the elementary schools adapting programs. According to Lester, at least three of the elementary schools in Tullahoma field cross-country teams. He’s hoping in the future that the middle school and high school programs will benefit runners starting at the elementary level.
“We really haven’t had a chance to see the real benefit of those programs yet,” Lester said. “If we can keep those going and keep that chain moving through the middle school ranks, I feel like it will really be a boost to our program.”
Cross-country practices are scheduled to get underway on Monday and continue until June 19. There will then be a mandatory two-week dead period, and coaches and runners will be allowed to return to practices on July 6.