The Phoenix will host their first varsity cross country meet when they welcome Gordon Central, Adairsville at Coahulla Creek to their brand new course around the Sonoraville High and Gordon County Parks and Recreation Department grounds.
New Sonoraville head coach Marcus Palazzolo said the course came out of a lot of hard work and cooperation between Sonoraville High, the Gordon County Parks and Recreation Department and the Gordon County Sheriff’s Department over the summer.
“I kind of knew the property and was familiar with the grounds the course was built on so just before the summer, I walked it and it was right at three miles,” said Palazzolo. “I knew with the condition it was in, there would be some work to be done clearing heavy brush and building a couple bridges so that’s when I got in touch with the Sheriff’s Department.”
Palazzolo contacted Captain Mike Garrigan at the Gordon County Sheriff’s Department who then put him in touch with Sam Momon and Joe Mazariegos who handle inmate work crews. With their help, the course was completed in July, and the Sonoraville cross country team has been practicing on it ever since.
“We are definitely excited to have a home meet here,” said Palazzolo. “We’ve had different kinds of runs here, but never a varsity meet, so we’re ready to run on our home course.
“We’re happy about having the start and finish at the track and looking forward to having people in the stands cheering and showing their support.”
The course, which stretches from the Sonoraville High track up to the Gordon County Recreation Department grounds to behind Sonoraville High and the football practice field before coming back to the track, will serve as the home course for both the Sonoraville High and Sonoraville Middle cross country programs as well as a multi-use path for recreational use. Proposed future improvements include signage and distance markers, path improvements with grading and gravel and Phoenix logos on the course.
Palazzolo said he thinks the course, which is two-thirds path and one-third on concrete is just as good if not better than other courses the Phoenix have run on.
“One thing I really like is that it’s one lap that covers over three miles so it’s a continuous course,” said Palazzolo. “Nothing against courses with several laps over the same area, but I prefer a course that is continuous. I think it has a good flow to it and helps to not throw off the runner.”
Palazzolo, who is in his first year as varsity head coach of cross country as well as boys’ soccer, said the team has stronger numbers than they’ve ever had and can’t wait to get going this season.
“We’ve had over 20 runners showing up to run this summer and as school has started,” said Palazzolo. “We will definitely be able to place a top five for boys and girls in varsity meets.
“We know it’s going to be a week-to-week process, and not every runner is going to be at their best every meet. But with as much depth as we have on this year’s team, we’ll be able to cover when everyone isn’t at their best.”