When Upson-Lee head coach Stephen Boyd began his first year with the Upson-Lee cross country program, he started with a handful of boys and girls to build his program around. Fast forward to 2012, and the Upson-Lee program has over 40 runners wearing the pruple and black, and they have become a staple for cross country success in middle Georgia.
With runners such as Peyton Hoyal, Cornell Jordan, Chris Moroz, Tessa Patterson, Miriam Mast, and Jeri Joiner having success coming through the program, the Upson-Lee program now has some lofty expectations with the season starting just around the corner.
“I am extremely excited about this season,” said Boyd. “We have had some really great kids come through here in the last few years, and their success has built our program to where it is today. The younger kids coming up have seen their success, and now they are striving to follow in their footsteps. It’s an exciting thing to watch.”
The Lady Knights lost their three best runners from a season ago due to graduation. Miriam Mast signed to run for Gordon College, Jeri Joiner signed a soccer scholarship with Gordon College, and school record holder Tessa Patterson signed to run at Augusta State University.
The Lady Knights have a pair of sisters who will try to fill the shoes of the “Big Three” from last season. Sophomore Mae Manley and freshman Abigail Manley are two of the Lady Knights’ runners who should lead the team this season, along with incoming freshman Morgan Collins, who Boyd says he is expecting big things from in 2012.
The Upson-Lee Knights return some strong runners on the boys side of the team. The Knights have never made the State Meet as a team, but Boyd says this season will possibly be the best chance the Knights will have to do so. Upson-Lee returns senior Levi Ellerbee, juniors Brian Reviere, Brady Joiner, Dalton Strom, and sophomore Faybian Matthews, who Boyd says are his top five runners at the moment.
Upson-Lee finished sixth in the region last season, failing to advance to the State Meet. The top four teams in each region advance to the State Meet. However, in 2012 Upson-Lee looks to be in a more favorable region. Locust Grove, Spalding, and Eagle’s Landing will be the teams to beat, according to Boyd. Spalding will host the Region Meet at the end of the season, but the Knights and Lady Knights will see the Jaguars and Lady Jaguars much sooner, as they open their season on August 25 with a meet at Spalding.
Upson-Lee will also participate in the Rock Ranch Invitational once again in 2012. The meet will take place at Rock Ranch on September 29, where several teams from across the state will be there to compete.
For the first time in school history, the team will travel to Orlando to participate in the Walt Disney Cross Country Classic on October 5-6. The Knights and Lady Knights have raised their money over the summer in order to participate in the event. The Upson-Lee cross country team also received a $2,000 grant from the Upson EMC Foundation. Look on 4B for the Lady Knights and Knights 2012 cross country schedule.