A veteran girls’ team and a relatively inexperienced boys’ team make up the 2019 Laramie High School cross country programs.

Laramie begins its new season at the Casper Invite Friday at Beartrap Meadow on Casper Mountain.

For the first time in seven years, the Laramie High School cross country program is not coming off a state championship. The boys took third place, while the girls finished fourth a year ago.

The new season features seven returning varsity runners for the Lady Plainsmen, while there is five back for the Plainsmen.

Greg Schabron is now in his 12th season as head coach. He’s okay that Laramie isn’t considered a favorite going in.

“The excitement level’s there, but at the same time I don’t see the pressure that was on both the guy’s and girl’s squads last year, which I think can be to our benefit.”

In 2018, the boys tried to extend a streak of six straight titles, while the girls’ team had high hopes after a runner-up in 2017. The results didn’t pan out, so it’s much like starting over.

Schabron said, “It’s going to be an interesting first couple of weeks. I like looking at Casper (Invite), and then, hopefully, Liberty Bell’s earlier this year, we can actually have some marks to kind of compare against some other teams.”

He knows the experience is with the girls’ team.

“Really haven’t talked goals with them yet, but I think in the back of their minds they know what they want to do, so that will be interesting to see.”

It’s nearly opposite for the boys’ squad with a lot of freshmen and sophomores, according to Schabron.

“We haven’t really gotten into what goal times they need to do. Some of these athletes haven’t even raced before (in a varsity meet), but we do have great, great leadership.”

Seniors Abigail Whitman and Mason Swingholm were Laramie’s best finishers at the state cross country meet a year ago. They talked with KOWB’s David Settle about a different outlook and not as much pressure this year, their individual goals, how the teams are looking, and more.

Schabron said to start the season, “We just want people to get used to racing a 5K. Once we kind of have that setup, I feel we can start increasing training quite a bit in weeks 2.5 through 3, and kind of get people where they need to start making the moves to make the grounds to October.”

Laramie Cross County does not have a home meet. In addition to Casper, they will head to Colorado the next three weeks, and then it’s up to Rapid City in late September. After a week off, Laramie competes in Cheyenne. The conference meet is in Casper, while state cross country has a new venue in Afton, WY hosted by Star Valley.

2019 LHS Cross Country Schedule