This time of year, there are plenty of things to be excited about.

All of the fall sports are getting started, including the Waxahachie cross country team.

The boys team won district last year, but the girls team is excited about their chance of taking the crown this year.

“I’m excited. I think we’re going to be better than ever,” Senior runner Caroline Barksdale said. “This is the year we are going to be good.”

Barksdale and fellow senior Tierney Thomison are going to be leading the way for a young and talented group with fellow runners Ashton Strange and Cami Bigham. The seniors have been setting a great example for the younger runnings and proving how bad they want it this year.

“We’ve been training harder than ever and I feel like we started training earlier than ever,” Barksdale said.

The girls will have a new coach this year as Edward De La Cruz takes the helm. He knows a lot of these girls well as he is the assistant soccer coach and there’s a lot of cross over among cross country runners and soccer players.

“I like De La, he’s really pushing us,” Barksdale said. “He seems to know what he’s talking about too and is reminding us that it really is more of a mental thing.”

Running is really a mental thing for these athletes. They all log in about 30 miles of running per week so the ability to run  about three miles in a meet, it’s just a matter of having the will to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

“We get a lot of motivational speeches from Cruz and he’s playing some mind games with us,” Barksdale said. “It’s working too because we ran a time trial last week and it was the fastest time trial we had ever done. People were really competing and it was a really fast time.”

The boys team will have a new coach this year as well as Damien Mobley takes the helm. He is also the boys basketball coach.

“Everybody is really going to contribute this year for us and on the boys side,” Barksdale said. “I think their knew coach is really good at motivating them. He’s all about focus and putting in the work.”

The boys team took a hit when all-district runner Luke Shatwell graduated, but they return key runners like Derek Espinoza and Broderick Vien.

Both teams will start their season by running in the Elk Run at Chisenhall Park in Burleson this morning. 

“This is my third year going there. It’s sometimes a little hot, but it’s a normal track,” Barksdale said. “As long as we don’t let the heat get in our head, we will be alright.”

That’s just another part of the mental game of running.

Waxahachie doesn’t host any cross country meets, but the team will compete in Midlothian at the James Smith Invitational at Camp Hoblitzelle on Sept. 12 and in Ennis in the Lion’s Den Invitational at Jaycee Park on Sept. 28.

The District 15-4A Meet will be Oct. 24.