After a summer of hard work and preparation, the Prosper High School cross country team is ready to compete under newly hired head coach Jennifer Gegogiene.

Gegogiene was hired in July and has 15 years of coaching experience in both cross country and track and field. She spent last season as head coach at College Park High School in the Woodlands.

“It’s been a great transition to Prosper,” Gegogiene said. “The summer camp was a great start.”

Gegogiene, along with Prosper assistant coach Lauren Houseknecht, recently spent two weeks hosting a summer camp for students in second through ninth grade. During that time, the youth learned and competed in a wide array of events, including shot put and discus, long and triple jumps, hurdles, sprints and relays. On the last day of camp, the athletes participated in a mock meet, individually competing in at least three events.

“That’s really the grassroots of our program, getting youngsters involved and excited about our sport and letting them do it at a young age,” Gegogiene said.

As for the high school runners, Gegogiene and her staff have kept the team focused on hard work and unity. The team has already began meeting for early morning runs, something they’ll continue to do daily once school starts.

Runs will begin at 6:30 a.m. followed by specifically tailored workout routines during the first class period of the day. Every runner, based on progress in running times and performance throughout the season, will work on multiple styles of stretching and core work to keep in good shape for each meet.

“We still work together as a team,” Gegogiene said. “Doing team bonding activities helps curate the boys and girls as seniors into leaders to teach our younger runners how things are done.”

Prosper looks to improve on what was a highly successful last year. The girls cross country team finished second at the state meet and saw seniors Abby Williams and Allie Taylor head to college to continue running with the University of Oklahoma and Abilene Christian University, respectively.

This year, the Eagles have a good balance of returning seniors and underclassmen on board. Among those senior leaders is Sam Rizzo, who’s finished Top 20 in the state for the past three years. However, while Gegogiene wants to maximize the potential of all her runners, she has larger goals in mind.

“Once you become a better person, then you become a better runner,” Gegogiene said. “We do have a part in creating what they will be like in the future. There’s a lot more to it than just running.”

The Eagles first meet of the season is the Mansfield Timberview Relay on Aug. 19, part of a season schedule that includes eight competitions before the District meet on Oct. 10.

“This group of kids are awesome hard workers and have lots of big things to look forward to this season,” Gegogiene said. “I’m excited and honored to be able to coach them.”