Coffee County cross country wraps up their 2022 season


Junior Kailee Rossman pushes toward the finish line at state.

Bethany Lambert, Sports Editor

The Coffee County Cross Country had big shoes to fill after both the boys and girls team went to state last year. And unfortunately, they faced a lot of challenges and couldn’t overcome them all to get a repeat of the previous success. 

However, junior Kailee Rossman and sophomore Fletcher Barnard both ran personal records this year and got the chance to compete at state. Rossman placed 63rd out of 198, achieving a personal best of 21:20. Barnard finished 28th out of 204 with a time of 16:46; out of sophomores in the state, he is ranked number 3. 

Rossman describes what cross country means to her: “Cross country has been one of my biggest commitments since elementary school. With each year, the sport has grown to become more than just the sport. I’m most thankful for the people and friendships cross country has brought into my life. And that’s what cross county is to me: a family. Yes, we work and train, but we have our fair share of fun and laughs.“ 

She also shared her experience at state: “It’s such a cool experience to run with some of the best. I think that’s what pushed me to my 24 second personal best time. All of the girls in my race pushed me to run faster, and I hope I pushed them as well.” 

Rossman hopes to break the school record next year as a senior. She knows it will be tough but is ready to put in the work. She would like to run at state next year, making it three years in a row. 

At the post season banquet, Freshmen Bailey Kitts and Madison Miller were named co-female newcomers of the year, and Ismael Salazar was named male newcomer of the year. Rossman was the female runner of the year and Barnard was the male runner of the year. 

At the banquet, the team was also able to celebrate the seniors: Jacob Slabaugh, Holden 

Shew, Taylor Semelroth, Olia Romaniuk, and Maddie Sullivan. Shew and Slabaugh both gave a speech in which they focused on the bond of the team. Slabaugh stated “Whenever I’m having a bad day, I know I can come to practice and escape; they always make me laugh.” Shew agreed with this claim. 

The Cross Country team had 18 runners, several of whom faced injuries or had to quit. At one point in the season the girls team only had 4 girls able to run, which isn’t enough to enter a race as a team. 

Coach Matt Rossman shared many statistics at the end-of-season banquet. These stats showed that Coffee County cross country is behind, not in talent, but in numbers. Many surrounding schools almost double the number of runners we have. Rossman also acknowledged the competition Coffee County runners face. They are running against teams from Murfreesboro and many other more financially-backed running programs. 

At the end of the unpredictable season, Coach Rossman left his runners with two goals for next year. The first is to keep running and improve their times, and the second is to grow the Coffee County running family. 

Will you step up to the plate and give Cross Country a try next year? If so, reach out to a current runner for information.