Columbus cross country coach Danielle McCoy entered the 2017 season with several new and inexperienced girls. McCoy and her runners didn’t let that slow them down, ultimately ending the campaign with a worthwhile finish.
The Lady Blue Devils sent seven runners to the Class 4A state meet in Carrollton and saw three finish in the top 70. The team’s efforts were good enough for an 11th-place finish in the Class 4A meet, a strong finish for such a young team.
Thanks to McCoy’s work with the Lady Blue Devils, she has been named the 2017 All-Bi-City Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year.
“We graduated a good bit of seniors last year,” McCoy said. “Eventually, it was a little nerve wracking. Having newer girls out on the team, you don’t really know how they are going to respond to the challenge. Actually, everyone stepped up to the plate when it was needed. They surprised me.”
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McCoy stressed that even though cross country has a strong individual element, her team’s work as a unit was crucial in their success. Runners such as sophomores Heaven Allen and Kylie Davenport and seniors Hannah Mishkoff and Emma Slavens stepped up repeatedly when the team need it, which helped Columbus throughout the season.
“There are multiple girls who stepped up when the time called for it,” McCoy said. “When we can get the girls to run together, that’s going to help our total point out at the end of the meet. Knowing that they were able to understand that and take care of business, it’s very comforting.”
McCoy saw her top two runners go in tandem in the season-ending state meet. Allen took 40th place in the race, followed closely by Davenport, who finished 41st.
As strong as the 2017 season was for Columbus, there’s a good chance 2018 and beyond will be even better. Of the seven Lady Blue Devils who competed at state, five will be returning for next season.
McCoy understands her young team made considerable strides this fall, which will likely lead to something even bigger soon enough.
“Almost everyone will be coming back,” McCoy said. “We’re looking good for the future, which is a good feeling to have.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports