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August 21, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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August 21, 2019 Page 7C Reporter By Rid l Dumm forsyfh@mymcr.nef Fresh off a region championship sweep in 2018, the Mary Persons boys and girls cross country squads seem poised for even bigger things in 2019, but they will have to start the season without their primary leader. Third-year MP head coach LLonisha McElhaney will miss the first two months of the season after delivering her second child last week. Acting in her stead is cross country newcomer Dylan Dupree, a Jones County native in his first year teaching in Monroe County after a year at Clifton Ridge Middle School in 2018-19. The 6'9" Dupree, who played college basketball at the Uni- versity of West Georgia, already planned to assist with MP basketball this winter but was quickly thrust into a major role in the cross country program. "Once I got here, Coach Mac reached out to me and asked ifRJ be interested in help- ing with cross country ' Dupree said. I was all for it. Whatever I could do to help. So now, I'm glad I did it, I've built a great rela- tionship with her, and these are great people to know. It's kind of like there's three or four of us that's a head coach in one. We're just trying to keep it going while she's out:' Joining Dupree as cross country assistants in 2019 is another Monroe County Schools newcomer, Julius Stroud, a former football assistant at Rock Springs Christian Acade- my who will be leading the Monroe County Middle School program, and Truer Good- win, whose children, Jeremy Goodwin and Jessica Price, were members of MP's initial cross country squad about two decades ago. Dupree said of Goodwin: "He's our cross country guru. He's incredible" Despite McElhaney's absence, Dupree said he's confident both MP varsity teams, which each finished in the top 12 at state in 2018, will thrive during the 2019 season because of their talent and maturi "This ismy firstyear with cross coun, try but just being around this group theres a lot of great times.There's a lot of great leadership" Dupree said. "That's the thing that takes the most pressure off me is the older retumers, they know what to do, and MARY PERSONS 2019 VARSITY GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY TEAM: Pictured from left to right on the front row: Maradeth Leverett, Jackie Gore, Gracie Martin, Caroline Hampton, Skyler Sandefur, Genna. Hallman and Madelyn Causey. Pictured from left to right on the back row: Emma Barksdale, Courtney Allen, Britney Allen, Rebecca Jones, Stormie Martin, Sarah Boyer, Gwyneth Cabe and Ava McKallip. Not pictured: head coach LLonisha McEIhaney, assistant coach Dylan Dupree and assistant Truett Goodwin. (Photo/Richard Dumas) they don't need somebody on their back to make them work hard. They want to do it for themselves. So we completely expect us to be competing right there in region and maybe competing in state as well." All five Lady Dogs runners who posted counting scores during a Region 2-AAAA championship romp in 2018 are back in 2019. Junior Ava McKallip, who finished third at region a year ago, sophomore Mara- deth Leveret-t, who finished fourth at region in 2018, sophomore Caroline Hampton, who placed fifth in region last year, and juniors Sarah Boyer and Stormie Martin are expected to anchor MP'S squad in 2019. The Lady Dogs will also feature senior, Jacque- line Gore, who Dupree said has admirably filled a leadership role so far this season, and the sister duo of Britney Allen and Courtney Allen, who transferred in from Howard. The MP boys squad is equally as experi- enced as its girls counterpart, returning all seven runners who competed during its region title race in 2018. Leading the way is one of the state's most gifted runners in ju- nior Justin Wachtel, who missed out on win- ning the progr 's first-ever individual state title by less than a second last November. Dupree said Wachtel is chomping at the bit for a chance to take the top spot on the podium this year. "He is a machine," Dupree said of Wach- tel. "He doesn't see anything but No. 1. He works hard every day. We've had days where lighting wouldn't let us practice as a team. But he was right up under me saying, 'When can I go (run)?' If we had to cancel team practice, Justin is sitting there waiting to get his workout in. And that's not only him alone. The varsity group, they're communi- cating with me as well that they're getting their workouts in at home too. They're mak- ing our job pretty easy to be honest" While the junior Wachtel might be/vIP's fastest runner, the Bulldogs feature seven talented seniors who are also hungry to See CROSS COUNTRY. Page 8C ross oun assmen Jim Allen Hallman Hampton Martin Martin Skyler Sandefur i