For the Marietta High and Marietta Middle School cross country teams, Saturday is going to be a big day.
"I don't think people realize how big it is," said Marietta High head coach Dale Leeper. "It's on our home course. It's our only home meet. The Broughton Foundation and the Broughton family have been so good to us. It's special, it really is. It's our kickoff."
The annual meet will feature 13 high school and junior high boys teams, and 13 high school and junior high girls teams.
Times file photo
Marietta High’s Julie Fobes is expected to lead the way for the Lady Tiger harriers at the Broughton Invite Saturday.
"There are about 450 registered runners," Leeper said. "A very nice turnout."
Among the schools expected to be at the meet are Marietta, Warren, Waterford, Fort Frye, Athens, Belpre, Union Local, Caldwell, Logan, and Elkins (W. Va.).
"Marietta, Warren, Logan, and Elkins are the bigger schools attending," Leeper said. "Then you've got Caldwell, which is just a great program year-in and year-out with (coach) Dugan Hill."
The 2011 ECOL champions are expecting to get big contributions from senior Mitchell Grose, senior Avery Phillips, sophomore Jake Haught, sophomore Kody Phillips, sophomore David Vann, freshman Corey Hines, and freshman Jeff Davis.
On the girls side, senior Julie Fobes, sophomore Brittany Deskins, senior Lizzie Frazier, and senior Amelia Cain will likely be key contributors.
"We want to run as a team," Leeper said. "I wanna see pack running. Our success is based on team running. I wanna see runners in a pack. If we don't finish first, second, or third, but we run as a team, I'll be tickled."
From top to bottom, Leeper is impressed with what he has seen from both the boys and girls teams.
"Our guys, for as young as they are, are working very hard," Leeper said. "We lost a lot of guys from last year. But I like the work ethic of the younger guys, and I love the overall team camaraderie. I'm a team chemistry guy. If you have no team chemistry, you have nothing. The girls, they have the work ethic, the camaraderie, plus a little more experience."
Leeper has made sure his runners have been practicing hard, and noted that they may not be 100 percent for Broughton Saturday.
"Our kids are going to be tired," Leeper said. "But you've got to plan ahead. It will get them ready for district and regional."
The weather is expected to be in the 80s and sunny. The gun fires at noon.