LIVE OAK — The Suwannee High School boys and girls cross country teams are gearing up for the season’s opening meet, The Dueling Summits Invitational, which is in Tallahassee on Aug. 24 at Elinar Klapp-Phipps Park.

“We have a lot of returners from last season and plenty of new faces that have shown up for early season conditioning,” boys coach Brian Bullock said. The girls team has a new coach, Amy Varick, who was an assistant last year. Bullock added that she’s “…doing a great job so far building up the girls for a big season.”

He is also preparing the boys team for the first match, which is on a hilly track.

“Our first meet in Tallahassee has the most hills of any course we run this year. There is one that goes a half-mile up toward the very end. It’s something that we are preparing our runners for in the coming weeks,” he said.

The teams are scheduled for nine events with the Live Oak Twilight Invitational on Sept. 27 at Suwannee Country Club in Live Oak. The runners also have to face some challenges with the hilly terrain there.

“I believe there will be several hills for that course. They present a challenge because there are not as many hills in this area to practice in,” Bullock said. “What we teach our kids when practicing for them is to lean forward more and keep shorter, but quicker strides when going up the hill. This way, they will be moving at a good pace, but not expending as much energy as they would if they were running regularly. Obviously, our runners are not big fans of the hills, but we try to find inclines to prepare for courses that will have them.”

Suwannee’s home meet is on Oct. 17. After that are two district meets. Other meets scheduled are in Starke, Lake City and Gainesville.

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