TIFTON — Tift Countians are back on the run.
The summer running group is in action at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, running several times per week. Most of the athletes involved will be active with Tift County High’s varsity program for the upcoming season, but the participation is much wider.
The sessions are voluntary, open to anyone who wants to attend, be it high schoolers, middle schoolers, younger children or adults. Each meeting seems to have a mixture of all ages.
Coach Mike Beeman estimated 25-30 runners are usually in attendance. He has seen many who will ultimately be on the team when official practice rolls around at the end of July. He counts Aidan Evans and Hayden Roberts among the “promising freshmen.” Returnees should include Yamari Snow, Bryce Stephens, Will Jones and Landon Johnson.
“A good nucleus,” said Beeman.
Beeman’s Blue Devils are working to get back to the state Class AAAAAAA finals. They finished seventh in area last year; the top six advanced to the final round. Stephens was the Devils’ top individual runner at area, finishing in 27th. Snow was close behind at 30th.
Like Beeman, Lady Devils head coach Kristin McElroy also has goals for the upcoming season.
“We’d like to do better at state,” she said.
Led by an 11th place finish from Emily Golden, Lady Devils were 18th a year ago at the state meet in Carrollton, up from 21st in 2017. Golden’s back again for her senior year, said McElroy, as are Alexis Tucker, Alexandria Vaughan, Savannah Miller, Katie McMillan and Rebekah Larger. All of those were the squad last year.
Tift has already one date announced for the 2019 season, the annual Run for Love. McElroy said that event, a 5K and one-mile fun run, is scheduled for Aug. 10. Run for Love will take place at ABAC.