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by Mark Cheffey
The Palmyra High School cross country teams have been preparing for the new season under new leadership.
Ashton Gottman takes over after the departure of the program’s only coach, Nicholas Koetters, and she is looking forward to the new opportunity.
“Taking over this position has been an exciting addition to my school year,” Gottman said. “It is great to work with first graders during the day and high school students outside of school.
“I love working with kids and getting to work with a variety of ages is refreshing.
The Blue Springs, Mo. native, and came to Palmyra upon marrying Palmyra native, Isaac Gottman.
“So I was not very familiar with the program when I accepted the position,” said Gottman, who is an avid runner.
“I love to run and work with students and was intrigued by the opportunity to put both of those things into practice together,” Gottman said. “Since taking on the position it has been wonderful to see students step up and carry on the legacy that Palmyra cross country has begun building for itself.”
Gottman ran cross country in high school and is relatively new to coaching, having coached cheerleading for Upward Sports in college and serving as a YMCA tumbling instructor.
“I was not an amazing runner by any means,” Gottman said of her cross country career. “It was something that I loved to do and I always valued the community of the cross country team.
“In college I told myself ‘who cares if I am not the best runner in the race, I still love to run.’
“So I challenged myself to run a half marathon. I instantly fell in love and have run five half marathons.”
As a cross country coach, Gottmn said she will focus on the athlete as a whole.
“I value each athlete as more than just a runner, but as a student and individual as well,”
Gottman said. “I desire for each athlete to develop a love of running that sticks with them for more than just during their high school years.
“I desire for them to compete as competitively as they want to. Taking ownership of their performance and training is a powerful thing.”
Gottman said pre-season preparation has gone well despite the heat forcing the team to go to early morning sessions.
“We get out there at 5:50 a.m. and start our runs,” Gottmn said. “We are all tired but push through to practice hard.”
Gottman has four girls and 10 boys out for cross country this season.
The girls include senior, Lydia Gard, juniors, Aly Noland and Tiffany Neff, and freshman, Izzy Rice.
The boys are seniors Brayden Stevens, Caleb Juette, Dakota Sndyer and Ji Young, juniors Connor Bross, Jackson Janes and Owen Mason Kiefaber, and sophomores, Daniel Reid, Jacob Barnes and Talon Markley.
The teams open the season this Friday at Mexico.
2021 Palmyra High School Cross Country Schedule
9/3 at Mexico 9 a.m.
9/11 Palmyra Invite. 9:10 a.m.
9/14 at QND 4:30 p.m.
9/21 Pal./Ill. Meet 4:30 p.m.
9/25 at Columbia TBA
10/2 at QHS TBA
10/4 CCC Meet (Cent.) 4 p.m.
10/9 at Marion Co. 10 a.m.
10/22 at B. Green 3:30 p.m.
10/30 at Districts TBA
11/6 State TBA
2021 Palmyra Middle School Cross Country Schedule
9/11 Unity 9:40 a.m.
9/14 at QND 3:30 p.m.
9/18 at Fulton. 9 a.m.
9/21 Pal. Invite. 4:30 p.m.
9/30 at B. Green 4:15 p.m.
10/2 at Hannibal 4 p.m.
10/13 at QHS 9 a.m.
10/4 at Centralia 4 p.m.
10/9 at Marion Co. 10 a.m.