Randy Robbins

Special to the Pilot

The Panther long distance runners are just about mid-way through their season and according to their coach, Chris Clark, “they just keep getting better every day.”

Prior to wrapping up practice on Monday afternoon, Clark lent some words of encourage to freshman runner Anna McCann.

McCann swings between junior varsity and varsity and had recently placed 9th in a field of around 200 participants at the junior varsity Woahink Invitational near Reedsport.

“I expect you to take first at this next one Anna,” Clark said in an encouraging tone.

A smile spreads across Clark’s face. McCann is starting to believe she can close in on that lofty mark.

“It starts up here, in the mind.” Clark says.

The first year Panther cross country coach has been doing that a lot lately...encouraging. And judging by the results, his efforts have so far been paying off.

“The kids are really working hard everyday. Their times are coming down and several are achieving personal bests and that is what it is all about,” Clark said.

Clark notes that his twins on the boys side, Brycen and Bailey Pitchford are good examples.

“Bailey really stepped it up and broke the 20 minute barrier at the (Prefontaine Invitational) turning in a (19:51). Before that his best was a (20:18) at Tugman.”

His brother, Brycen, is the Panthers overall leader running a speedy (19:13) at Cape Blanco.

On the ladies side Clark points to Bethy Meyers who had a personal best at Woahink, where she toured the Lakeside route in (22:42) while teammate Avi Gaston had her season best time of (22:28).

Clark said he lost a couple of kids due to conflicts in scheduling, one to an ankle injury but has four girls and four to five boys that he believes will be solid performers throughout the remainder of the Panthers season.

“Right now we just want to continue getting better, faster, turning in personal bests and getting tuned up for district later this month (October 26th).”