By Moses Leos III
First year Lehman High head cross country coach Ramez Antoun understands inexperience is driving the 2014 squad.
While he says there are “a lot of first time runners” this season, the Lobos continue to make strides on the trail.
“They are working hard, showing up [to practice] and closing the gap,” Antoun said. “Their times are faster every week. We are pushing them a little harder.”
Much of the team’s inexperience is on the girls team, which Antoun said doesn’t have a varsity division at this time.
Antoun and his assistant, Brad Baker, are helping the runners assimilate to the sport. Many of them are “kids new to high school in general.”
Leading the charge for the Lady Lobos is senior Cynthia Garcia, who finished 12th overall in the JV competition at the Lockhart Invitational Meet in August. According to Antoun, Garcia is the quiet, “lead by example type.”
Joining Garcia is junior Annamarie Fajardo, who is on a similar talent level with Garcia.
However, with the youth and inexperience, Antoun said he has been hesistant to field a varsity team.
He hopes to compete at the varsity level during the Lobos’ trip to the Seguin Initiation Meet on Oct. 4.
“They’re competing on the JV side, but we are trying to graduate (our kids) to the varsity division,” Antoun said.
Lehman’s varsity boys team equally holds as much inexperience. Their varisty team has competed in two meets, finishing in the middle of the pack at the AISD and Pflugerville invitational.
Several young runners propel the team. It includes Luis Martinez, siblings Polo and Aldo Garcia and Chris Guillermo.
“Luis has the potential to do great things, if he does his work, between now and next year,” Antoun said. “Polo is consistently one of our best, and Aldo is running toe to toe with the best
“[Chris] is working hard, showing up and putting in the miles.”
Preparing the runners, or “putting in the miles,” is the biggest obstacle for Antoun and Baker. The absence of a dedicated cross country class adds to the challenge.
Maintaining what was learned under previous cross country head coach Jay Sansom somewhat eased the process.
Maintaining improvement continues to be the team’s mantra. Not worrying about times, or placement, drives that goal.
“I tell them, ‘I don’t care if you are finishing 23 or 123rd, if your time is moving in the right direction, that’s all you can control,” Antoun said.