Levi Sybert expects some fierce practices from the Richmond Hill cross country teams this season.
The boys team has a record-high 47 members and the girls team is tied for its most members ever at 23. Sybert, the coach since 2010, can only enter seven from each team as varsity competitors in each meet.
“When you have that many, the ones who want to be in that top seven really have to work hard,” he said. “It’s a lot different compared to when we only had a dozen or so on each team.”
In 2010 there were just seven girls and 10 boys. As the teams have found more success they’ve also found more runners.
“The boys especially have been great about recruiting more members,” Sybert said. “We have a very mature group of upper classmen who feel comfortable talking to other students about the team.”
Sybert said interest has also increased as the program gets more exposure with athletes signing to run in college.
The girls have finished in the top 10 at the state meet the past three years while the boys finished in the top 20 last year.
“Even though we have 23 girls this year, only three have run varsity before,” Sybert said. “We have a lot who aren’t just new to cross country, they’re new to running in general. There’s a lot of room there to grow.”
The teams will face their first big test Aug. 27 at Daffin Park in Savannah at a meet that Sybert said attracts about 30 schools annually from across the state.