Exercise for all: High school cross country team runs with shelter dogs

On the Road: Steinbrenner crosscountry team takes jogs with adoptable dogs

Lutz, Fla. -- There is nothing wrong with the name "Winston," but a group of high school runners has grown more accustomed to "Red."

Either way, the dog wins.

“Red can run all day,” joked Steinbrenner assistant cross country coach Bob Ennis.

Head coach Branden Lingerfelt decided to adopt one of the dogs his Steinbrenner High School Cross Country team fell in love with this summer -- changing its name is a small price to pay.

Nearly every morning this summer, the Steinbrenner runners beat the sun to Al Lopez Park in Tampa. They made the 30-minute drive from the high school to the park to meet up and train for the upcoming season.

Thanks to a suggestion from a parent, they added four-legged runners from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay to the mix.

“We’re out here every day anyway and we figured we might as well take the dogs who are cooped up in their kennels and need some exercise,” said runner Jackson Miller. “Take them out and let them go run.”

On the final day of the summer running program, the Steinbrenner kids took to the trails with Buck, Colombo and Kayla. In all, about nine dogs made regular stops with the team at the park.

“We’ve seen dogs get adopted,” Ennis said. “We’ve gotten to where we go to the website over the weekend to see which dogs get adopted.”

The school year begins later this week. That means the summer running will end for the dogs and teens.

The kids do expect Red, or maybe Winston, to be at all of the upcoming cross country meets.

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