By Moses Leos III
For the third time in three years, the Hays Rebel cross country program is in search for a new head coach.
With the season fast approaching, the Rebels are now on the clock to find a suitable replacement.
“We are in the process of posting the job (and) interviewing people,” Hays Athletic Director Neal LaHue said. “We hope to have someone hired pretty quick.”
On Monday, LaHue confirmed the resignation of head cross country coach Matt Wilke, who resigned last week. He took a job in a private business, outside of the education realm, according to LaHue.
It comes roughly a year after Wilke was hired to helm the Rebel boys and girls cross country team. He was hired last summer to replace longtime head coach Cliff Buckley.
Despite the lack of a head coach, the cross country program soldiered on with its off-season workout regiment.
Leading the charge is senior captain Jason Peed, who has taken the lead in setting up off-season workouts.
Peed said the workouts so far have been “normal,” with many of the runners going through their routines.
While he said it’s something the team can “easily handle,” he admits having a coach would be preferable.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” Peed said. “Most of the kids are there to run, not mess around. It’s been easy.”
LaHue lauded the team’s efforts, along with the leadership during the transition.
“Our kids have been out here all summer working out,” LaHue said. “We’ve got good captains and senior leaders.”
Preparing for the upcoming season is now the primary goal.
Peed said while the team might not have the numbers from a year previous, he believes they will make up for it with conviction.
“The people that are there [at practices] are super committed,” he said “They are coming to cross country, and that is not an easy thing. It’s a lot of hard work.”
Joining Peed are several returning members from last season.
Junior Esmi Fuentes returns after a successful 2013 campaign. Fuentes’ efforts last season took her to the state cross country meet in Round Rock.
On the boys’ side, Peed and sophomore Ian Blunt look to fill the shoes left by state qualifier Esteban Villalpando.
Due to the head coach search, LaHue said the team’s official start date was pushed back to August 11.
Peed said he prefers a coach with a background in running. However, having a coach doesn’t take away the need for athletes to perform, especially in cross country.
“Coaches can tell us what to do, but the kids are the ones that do the running,” Peed said. “I don’t think it will be too much of a change if we have a coach or not. Whether or not there is a coach that is telling us to run, we will still run.”
Wilke’s resignation marks the fifth head coach to leave Hays CISD since May. His was preceded by the departures of Hays boys basketball coach Robert Lucero and softball coach Aaron Fuller. Lehman head softball coach Bill Holmes and boys soccer coach Jay Sansom also departed later in the summer.
Hays head volleyball coach Erica Walther stepped down from her post in November.