BRIENSBURG – The cross country season is already under way, so when Christian Fellowship School made a last-minute decision to add a team, “we had to hit the ground running,” athletic director Debbie Lewis said.
That wasn’t merely a pun, but also an accurate assessment of the task.
The Eagles have begun working out, running every day at Mike Miller Park in Draffenville or at Noble Park in Paducah, Lewis said, under the direction of coach Aaron Cypret. They are scheduled to enter this first competition this afternoon in an event hosted by St. Mary at Stuart Nelson Park in Paducah.
Cypret’s daughter, Hannah, a sophomore, is one of seven runners who have signed up to compete this year.
“She was recovering from a knee injury and wanted to run,” Cypret said. “I really thought it would be her and me.”
Instead, interest has blossomed in the new program. In addition to the seven team members, Cypret said, “We’ve got some other kids, girls and boys, who come out and run with us.”
Cypret said he expects some of those youngsters to add their names to his roster as time goes by.
Hannah Cypret, who suffered her knee injury playing soccer, is a first-year student at CFS, transferring this year from Reidland High School in McCracken County.
Cypret, a Russellville, Ark., native who works for Air Products in Calvert City, is a recreational runner who, like his daughter, is rehabilitating a knee.
“I was a football player,” he said. “I never ran cross country a day in my life.”
He credits Chris Robbins, a frined from high school who lives in Texas, and Fulton County cross country coach Steve Spadafino with helping him and assistant coach David Dean get the new team organized in time to meet Kentucky High School Athletic Association deadlines for competing this season.
“Everybody has been real supportive,” he said. “I’ve found cross country to be competitive but friendly.”
Cypret said he has also exchanged emails with Marshall County High School coach Chris Kerrick and has been offered use of the Marshals’ on-campus course.
The coach’s daughter is the only girl on the roster at this time. Boys include junior Joe Paul Dean, sophomores Sam Dean, Will Na and Nick Snodgrass, freshman Phillip Hummel and eighth-grader Thomas Snodgrass.
“Our goal is to qualify for regionals and see how we do there,” Cypret said. “Then, next year, start building on that.”
CFS, a private academy, opened in 1984. Its fall sports program also includes girls’ volleyball and a co-ed golf team.
“We really strive to offer opportunities if a student expresses interest,” Lewis said.
Over the years, CFS has fielded teams in a variety of sports, including boys’ and girls’ basketball and soccer, baseball, softball and track and field.
Cross country was previously an option for CFS students, both in team form and as individual participants in sanctioned meets.
“We’ve had cross country with just one student, and that student would go over to Marshall County High School and work out with their team,” Principal Bill Rowley said, praising the public high school for its cooperation in such ventures.
Rowley served as athletic director from 2000 to 2004.