“I just want to learn their names,” joked Panther cross country coach Cliff Boos, who was greeted by nearly 20 runners for an 8 a.m. morning practice.
Boos' Panther girls' team is the defending state runner-up and also holds two of the last four state championship trophies. Also defending state runner-up this fall are the members of the Panthers' volleyball team, who appeared 40-45 members strong as team members stretched across three practice courts inside the high school gymnasium on Monday morning.
Things got off to an even earlier start behind Powell High School. Approximately 55 athletes showed up for Panther football coach Jim Stringer as the team looks to bounce back after a 2009 season that began full of promise, but ended with the team dropping its final four conference games.
There was quite a crowd on the tennis courts as well. Head coach Ray Bieber spent his morning drilling nearly 30 members of the Panthers' tennis squad in footwork and conditioning drills designed to get the team ready for the year ahead.
“We're actually expecting more,” said Bieber. “We'll probably have 35 to 40 kids once everyone shows up.”
The Panther swim and golf teams also took their opportunities to gather for their first organized practices of the season on Tuesday. Exact participation numbers in all fall sports won't be known for a few days.
For most of the Panther teams, students will have two weeks to prepare for their first competition of the year. For Powell's golfers, however, that time period is closer to 72 hours.
The Panther golfers once again have the honor of officially raising the curtain on the Fall 2010 sports season when the team hosts the Powell Invitational. The tournament opens at 2 p.m., Thursday. Second-round action begins at 8 a.m., Friday.
For the remainder of the Panther teams, the fall seasons begin the following weekend, Aug. 27-28.
Powell volleyball opens Aug. 27 at the two-day Riverton Invitational. Powell tennis takes a trip the same weekend to Green River and Rock Springs for its opening duals of the season.
Powell cross country makes a short trip to Cody on Friday, Aug. 27, to open the season at the Cody Invitational. The Panthers will get an opportunity to test out a new competitive course that will be used during that meet.
The Panthers' swim team gets to see how friendly the waters in its new aquatic home will be when it hosts Buffalo in the season's first dual. The swim season opener is at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28.
Last, but not least, the Panthers' football program travels to Miles City, Mont., for an Aug. 28 season opener against Custer County. That game will not officially count toward the Panthers' season record, however. The first official game of the season comes the following Friday. Riverton travels to Powell for a Sept. 3 season-opener.