Coach Tim Spruill is an optimistic guy. He likes to see the bright side of things, his glass is always half full, and good things happen to him because of his positivity.

However, going into his second year as the Head Coach of the Panther Cross Country team, he knew that the year would be difficult. That did not mean that he didn’t find positives to take away from the season.

Junior Carson Sprunk consistently led the Panthers in times this season.

“Because of restrictions due to COVID-19, we were forced to go to a bunch of meets we normally would not have considered. Instead of being a negative, it was a total win for the team. We got to compete against different schools than normal and got to see a lot of different courses instead of the same course over and over again. Next year, even if all the restrictions are lifted, we will probably do most of these meets again. If nothing else, they were fun and we were competitive. That is what it is all about!”

Spruill considered this season a complete success, despite missing the State Meet.

“We had a full schedule and despite losing members due to 2020 being weird, we competed just as hard and performed and placed consistently higher than the year before. Growth under such circumstances makes me wonder how much we could have achieved in a more normal year. This counts as a win for us!”

The Panthers were led by two student-athletes who will return in 2021. Junior Carson Sprunk was consistently the fastest boy runner for the Panthers. When Carson wasn’t busy hitting the running trails, he was busy maintaining his 4.1 GPA.

The Lady Panthers were paced by Junior Carolina Alvarado. Not to be outdone by Carson, Carolina carries a 4.4 GPA and is a returning All-District player for the Lady Panther Soccer team.

“Carson and Carolina are the epitome of student-athletes. They come to compete day in and day out, and do not let their grades fall at all in the process,” said Spruill. “Both of them will be in contention to break the school records next year, as they were within a minute this year.”

Coach Spruill and the Panthers are already looking forward to next season.

“We have already started conditioning for next season. Many of our veteran athletes are doing other sports at the moment, but at the same time we have a number of rookies who are getting their feet muddy for the first time. Despite the pandemic, we are looking to increase the size and speed of the team for next year. The team is preparing to break school and personal records in the first meet of the next season.”

“Our main goal for the coming season and all future seasons is to get back to the state meet. Class 4A does not require you to qualify for the state meet, however Class 5A requires qualification. We have not been to state since the school reclassified to 5A. But our growth and conditioning plan moves us closer to making it every week.”

As would be expected, Coach Spruill puts his positive spin on even the most grueling of sports.

“Cross country runners are a strange group of people. They consistently come out and dedicate themselves to the most miserable, painful, terrible sport our school has to offer. When they get good at it, somehow they enjoy it. Their strength of character sets a standard we should all strive for. Three miles at a time, they show us how to be the best we can be. I am proud to coach this team and hope I get the privilege to continue coaching them for many years to come.”