Guy Nowlin, the cross country coach at Seguin High School, has to perform a bit of a juggling act every fall.
Even though he starts practices early in the morning, typically around 6 a.m., members of his team are sometimes committed elsewhere at the school.
Whether it be band, volleyball, or football, many of his kids are doing double, triple or even quadruple activities and sports for the Matadors.
That means he’s trying to schedule his workouts around those other commitments, getting his runners into shape as best he can.
But he’s used to it —Nowlin has been the head coach for four years.
“We share a lot with band and other sports, and of course there’s a lot of kids getting their last minute vacations in,” Nowlin said. “We pull the band kids in earlier and try to get the bulk of the workout in, so they can then go and fulfill their band commitment also.”
In spite of kids coming in and out of practice, there were good numbers at practice Wednesday morning, with around 30 boys and girls taking part in the workouts.
The team had its best results in his time as head coach last year, when two runners, Jerry Garcia and Cheney Stephenson, finished fifth and eighth, respectively, at the district meet and qualified for regionals individually.
The pair finished 40th and 41st, respectively, at the regional meet and ran PR’s in the process, 15.41 and 15.42 for the three miles.
“They both ran really well,” Nowlin said. “They were flying. It was personal bests for them and they progressed that way through the season.”
The pair almost got the team to regionals, as the top three teams in district make the regional meet, but Seguin finished fourth, just missing out by 10 points.
Both come back as seniors this year, joining junior Louis Flores, who also plays football, basketball and baseball for the Matadors.
“He does everything,” Nowlin said. “He just missed qualifying for the regional meet last year. Those top three, Jerry, Cheney and Louis, have done a good job leading the way on the boys side.”
That leaves four spots open for the seven-man roster and those are up for grabs, the coach said.
“We have about eight guys right now in the running,” Nowlin said. “We’ve had a battle through the summer trying to figure that out. We’ll see at the first meet on Saturday — it’ll give us a feel to see where they line up and stack up against the competition. It’s a good thing for us.”
The Lady Mats
The girls just missed regionals by two points, also finishing fourth in the district.
“We graduated some of those girls, one of which was Brenda (Vargas), who signed to run at TLU,” Nowlin said. “We’ve got some shoes to fill on that side, but we’ve gone out and recruited from some other sports.”
Junior Kinley Rhodes is one of those recruits, even though she ran for the team last year, and senior Laura Button is another multi-sport athlete on the squad.
“Kinley’s in band and in soccer,” Nowlin said. “Laura’s another band, basketball, track girl. She’s in the mix too as we try to fill out the girls side.”
Nayali Segura returns as a senior letterman from last year’s team, while sophomore Briana Adams also returns after lettering last season.
“Briana has come pretty much the entire summer,” the coach said, “so we would like to see where that training pays off for her going into the season.”
Briana Steans comes back as a senior after qualifying for region her freshman year, but then dealt with injuries the last two years that kept her from running.
“The injuries limited her the last two years, but she looks to be recovered and we’re hoping she can get her wind back underneath her and see what she can do this year,” Nowlin said.
The team has T-shirts this season with the number “154” on the backs, a significant number for the Matadors this year.
“It’s 154 miles from Seguin High School to Corpus, where the regional meet is held, so that’s our goal,” Nowlin said. “We all want to wear 154, girls and boys, because that’s where we want to go. Once we get there, we’ll do our best to compete and maybe travel a little further.”
To get there, Seguin will have to get through some tough competition in district.
“Boerne Champion typically is a big, strong squad, both on the boys and the girls teams,” Nowlin said. “They qualified both teams last year, so they’re a juggernaut when it comes to cross country.”
The coach also mentioned Kerrville Tivy and Veterans Memorial, which edged Seguin out of regionals last year.
Nowlin is hoping to build on the progress the team made last season, the best for both teams during his tenure.
“It’s been a progression over the last few years, getting a running culture, getting them out here running in the summer and building the numbers up,” Nowlin said. “I always tell them, numbers breed competition, competition breeds success. There’s a big world out there, as those that have made regionals have found out. There’s a lot more competition the farther you spread yourself out — big time.”
Seguin begins the 2019 season this Saturday at the Steele High School meet.
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .