Perry Bluejays cross-country: Running into the season.

: Cesar J ToledoSports Reporterctoledo@theperrychief.com

It’s been 30 years since Perry High School’s cross country team ran its first monumental meet. Back then one of the architects behind that inaugural season was the late coach Leon Fox. Today, Fox’s son Jeff has taken the torch and continues the legacy his father left behind. Just like his father, Jeff is not only a coach but also an educator.

“I’ve been here since 2007 and I teach biology just like my dad did,” coach Jeff said.

With the season kicking off August 27 at the Gilbert Invitational hosted by Iowa State University (ISU), Jeff is aware that his team will look a little raw and inexperienced but toward the end of the season he expects to see a savvy group of runners.

“This year it is going to be young and green,”he said.”We have a lot of underclassmen. We might be a little rough at the beginning of the season and look a lot better by the end of the season once we get some miles behind us.”

The Bluejay’s boys team are looking to prove they can still compete despite being too young and losing last year’s top runner, Keegan Phau, who graduated and is now attending Morningside College.

A full week of practice is already under the squads belt with many more to come. Practice routinely begins anywhere from quarter to four and usually goes until 5:30 p.m. Normally residents will see the team running all around town but coach Jeff is aware of how monotonous this can become so he tries to think outside the box when he feels he needs to light a fire under their shoes - pun intended.

“I try to give them more of a joy for running,” he said. ” I try to do a lot of different motivational things.”

One motivating tool he will use this season is to have his team watch McFarland USA. The film is about a team of novice cross-country runners who believe in themselves and end up on top.

“It has a lot of similarities with our culture here,” Jeff said. “I want to get the kids to realize the one thing anyone can be good at is cross country. It’s just how much you want to put into it.”

Currently, the team is comprised of 14 athletes out of the 40 students that originally signed up. Coach Jeff will soon be looking over the list and calling the students who showed interest.

Those students thinking of being part of the team will be running at a special event this year which will be held at the Perry Golf & Country Club.

“I always look forward to the home meet at the Leon Fox Invitational, which is named after my dad,” he said.

Joining the boys in competition are the Bluejay’s girls team who are also seeking to take the next stride past districts and try to fill the void left by senior Leah Reuter. Up for that challenge is sophomore Grace Stewart who is looking to build on her impressive freshman season. Last year Stewart fell just two to three runners short of making it past Districts.

Coach Krohn is optimistic about his team’s capabilities and what they will accomplish this season despite not sporting any upperclassmen. He loves the determination he sees from his girls, but is always looking to increase those numbers.

“Right now we have eight but I am always recruiting and looking for more,” he said. “If there is anyone else that wants to come out, by all means just come talk to me.”

This year’s girl will be venturing into uncharted territory. Those suiting up will need more cushion for their “soles” as they will be have to contend with an extra 1k. Coach Krone will have work with building up the girl’s endurance but teach them how to maintain their focus.

“That comes in with a lot of practice that we do.” he said. In practice I try to teach them not to focus on the people that are around you, just focus on what your goals are. I always tell them that you are not competing against the other team you are really competing against yourself.”

The girl’s team continues to practice Monday through Friday for approximately an hour and a half. Coach Krohn tries to implement some fun down time to help keep the team loose and having fun.

“So we try to lighten the mood every Friday of a home football game we always do games” he said. “Sometimes we will play capture the flag to take it kind of easy.”

Fall Schedule: All Varsity Games are subject to change. Always check the school’s website for details.

9/8/15 Winterset Invitational Winterset 4:30 PM

9/10/15 Greene County Invitational Jefferson 5:15 PM

9/14/15 Ballard Invitational Huxley 4:45 PM

9/22/15 Newton Invitational Newton 5:00 PM

10/1/15 Leon Fox Invitational Perry Golf & CC 4:15 PM

10/12/15 RRC Cross Country Meet Boone 4:30 PM

10/15/15 Saydel Invite Saydel 5:00 PM

10/22/15 State Qualifying Meet 4:00 PM

10/31/15 State Fort Dodge 12:00 PM