With summer conditioning coming to a close, the cross country season is just beginning for the Era Lady Hornets.

Head coach Amie Thompson said the team is going through a changing of the guard so the summer has been key for their development mentally and physically.

Thompson said the team is reinvigorated to return to the state meet.

“We’re pretty young this year,” Thompson said. “We have three seniors coming back, but then we have five freshmen and then adding a junior and a sophomore in there. So we’re pretty young. They’re willing to work. They don’t always know what’s ahead of them. We have a strong history here of going to state. We made it three straight years and then last year was our first year to not to make it. So I think they’re ready to get back there as a team.”

Thompson said the goal is and has always been state.

“We don’t even say our goal is to be district champs,” Thompson said. “Our goal is to make it back to state.”

With a new batch of athletes moving up from the middle school, Thompson said they have acclimated nicely.

“It’s such a big change to go from junior high to high school, because pretty much everybody runs cross country in junior high,” Thompson said. “And then your numbers drop off dramatically in high school. It’s a different level. We run far more mileage a week than they ever thought about running in junior high. So as a coach you’re a little worried at first that they may quit before they ever get in shape, but I didn’t see that from them. I saw them watching the older kids and pushing to close the gap between them and the older kids. That’s a positive too, because that’s the future of your program.”

Thompson said the endgame for this summer is about staying with the workouts and the required work ethic.

“I think it’s a consistency we’re looking for,” Thompson said. “It’s easy right now. What I want to see is I’m going to show up and give everything I’ve got to that workout. And that’s a maturity thing. I’m hoping to see them deliver. It’s not about just showing up to get done. It’s about showing up first off and then pushing as hard as you can and not holding something back. It’s OK to hurt because you’re going to have to hurt to get to that next level.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at sports@gainesvilleregister.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip