COVINGTON - Undeniably, the first Saturday of November is going to be hectic for cross country teams around the state.
For the Newton squads, they have their hands full, too. On Saturday they will travel to Augusta to compete in the Region 2-AAAAA meet. Should they qualify, they will advance to the state championship the following weekend in Carrollton.
"We've worked hard all year," Newton coach Aaron Robinson said. "They've earned everything they've gotten to this point, and if they follow through they should see the fruits of that labor again - qualifying for state meet. Unless there are any surprises, we should be there, but anything better than fourth would definitely be a plus."
The last time the Newton boys were crowned region champions came in 2005, while the girls won in 2004.
Regarding the boys, the region isn't lacking talent, starting with Greenbrier. Union Grove and Luella each have high expectations, but nevertheless, Newton is right there.
Led by Raymond Menefee, who could easily finish among the top 10 runners, the Rams have no intentions of not showing up.
"I think we're all competitive," Robinson said. "We're hoping just to do what we can do and finish in that top four and claim our spot for the state meet."
Ameryst Armstead has paced the Lady Rams all year long. According to Robinson, she must finish among the top six in order to qualify for state.
"They're in their best form of the season, and that's the goal - to be in your top form to race on that day," he said.
Ready or not, both the Newton boys and girls squads will be tested in Augusta.
"The course is tough, so it doesn't necessarily mean they'll run their best time, but our expectation is to run our best race on that day," Robinson said.
"Individually and as a team, I think we're in a position to do that. We've seen steady improvement all season long. I think all the boys and girls are aware of that, and that's just from the work they've done running every day."
The meet starts at 2 p.m. Rounding out the Region 2-AAAAA teams are M.L. King, Redan, Stephenson and Douglass.
Jason Murdock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: Cross Country
What: Region 2-AAAAA cross country championship
When: 2 p.m. Saturday