In his first season as Highland Park boys cross country coach, David Ripley isn’t planning a major overhaul, but rather a few minor tweaks.
He will bring back more traditional uniforms to replace the plaid outfits from last year. He will focus more on distance rather than speed during training. And he will scale back the schedule from seven to six meets during the regular season.
“We think that gives us maybe a competitive advantage and maybe fresher legs going into district,” said Ripley, who was promoted from assistant to head coach following the retirement of Randy Adair in the spring.
The goal is for the Scots to bounce back from a 12th-place finish at last year’s Class 4A state meet. That will be difficult with this year’s jump to the 6A classification, but HP has experience on its side, with six of the top seven runners returning from last season.
“They’ve got a lot of experience,” Ripley said. “They hold their destiny in their hands.”
On the girls side, HP will have to compete this season without Natalie Rathjen, who won a state title last fall and is one of the most decorated distance runners in school history. Hope McLaughlin will likely take over as the top athlete for the Lady Scots, who were second as a team at the state meet.
Both the boys and girls will compete in the same meets this fall, beginning with the Greenhill Six-Mile Relay on Saturday at Norbuck Park.
The District 10-6A meet is slated for Oct. 21 at Warren Sports Complex in Frisco.