By Reagan Perry | Special Correspondent
Under Coach Leslie Lewis, Parrott’s boys’ and girls’ cross country teams have bright futures.
“Over my seven years of coaching cross country,” said Coach Lewis, “there’s been a lot of improvement in our program. One thing I can say is that our numbers have increased significantly.”
The team – both the girls and the boys – defeated Oakwood School (Greenville) yesterday at the Kinston Rotary Dog Park.
The boys swept the first five spots while the girls took the first and third places in their win.
Led by top runners, juniors Mary Paul, Emily Piwowarski, Will Connolly, and sophomore Lucas Ouano, the team is very young and is looking for ways to improve.
The girls’ team only has two seniors, Camille Edwards and Katie Frank, and the boys’ team has no seniors, which allows the team time to improve and use this season as a “building year.”
As many runners on the team know, the secret to success is working hard in the offseason.
Over the summer, the team attended a camp in Virginia Beach and held summer conditioning practices.
One of Parrott’s top runners, Ouano, believes that hard work in the offseason is the best way to improve.
“I realize now that improvements are made in the offseason,” said Ouano, “when everyone else is resting.”
Ouano challenged himself to improve this summer by running a total of 273 miles and competing in his first half marathon.
The improvements made in the offseason are already noticeable to members of the team.
Connolly noticed that the team can compete with Cape Fear Academy this year.
“In previous years we could not compete with Cape Fear,” said Connolly, “so it is a big improvement for the team to really compete with them.”
While improvements can come individually over the summer, during the season coaching can also help strengthen the team.
Connolly believes that Coach Lewis’s ability to adapt her coaching style for each runner really helps the team.
Coach Lewis said that this year she wants to “strengthen the competitive spirit of the whole team and make practice more intense.”
She also sees this year as the time to set new goals for her team.
She hopes to get the boys top five runners’ times to under 21 minutes.
Coach Lewis said that this will “bring the boys team to the front of the (Coastal Rivers) conference.”
Her goals for the girls’ team include building their strength and size.
She hopes to build the girls’ program to include more runners.