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First Presbyterian cross-country program is making strides
First Presbyterian Christian Academy's cross country team may only be two years old, but the program already is earning accolades. - photo by Photo provided.

When First Presbyterian Christian Academy started its cross-country program in 2010, the team consisted of four runners and competed only in two races.
In 2011, coach Simon Steele took over the program, and the roster grew to 16 runners and earned a few medals and ribbons.
One runner, Isiah Dickey, finished in the top 10 at the region meet.
This year, the Highlanders hit a milestone as the boys’ junior-varsity squad earned a first-place finish — the team’s first one ever — at a meet Aug. 27. The ’Landers beat out seven other cross-country squads.
According to Steele, three JV runners earned awards. In addition to Dickey, Simon Steel placed third and Jacob Cardinale placed 10th.
Steele said Lady ’Lander Hannah Burkett also made history.
“She is the first Highlander to win a race,” he said.
Burkett and Iliana Garnica, who finished seventh, also won personal awards, Steele said.
Adding to the accolades was varsity runner Matthew Fussell, who earned the first varsity award for FPCA after finishing fourth.
Steele said the team has come a long way since the program first started.
This year, the roster has about about 30 runners.
“The athletes knew very little, and I started telling the students that they did not have to be perfect or good,” Steele said, adding he worked with each athlete to develop their individual skills.
“I began teaching them about how to become a better person, both physically and spiritually.”
The Highlanders will compete at 4 p.m. Monday at Stratford Academy in Macon.

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