Cross country team eager to take on State competition


Brittany Toombs, Staff Writer

The Liberty cross country team has been having a strong season and is hopeful heading to the State meet on November 8 in Pasco to take home the first place trophy.

Diligent training over the summer at camps and practices has led to early victories this season. Runners are breaking their personal records left and right, and the small team is a tight-knit group.

“We’ve been really successful,” senior and womens captain Sarah Bliesner said. “We’ve won all of our non-invitational meets so far and have almost swept some of them. We are really looking forward to State.”

The cross country team has always aimed to place high, if not win, at the State meet, but Liberty’s switch to 2A offers new challenges for the team. In order to reach the coveted first place trophy at State, the team will have to race Sehome High School, whose womens team ranks second in Washington according to pre-season polls.

“You’d think that switching to 2A would be easier, but it’s actually going to be more difficult,” junior and Varsity runner Carlyn Schmidgall said. “Sehome is very impressive and it will be a huge challenge to defeat them.”

The impending competition has kept the team on its toes. Practices involve motivational speeches, runs between six and eight miles, and core workouts. The mens team is ranked fifth in 2A, but the top ten ranks are extremely close.

“The mens team has been consistently improving and getting higher up in the 2A rankings,” senior and mens team captain Trevor Sytsma said. “Our goal is to make our guys as fast as possible so we can gain points in that middle-of-the-range pack.”

Bliesner and Sytsma, who have the fastest womens and mens two mile times in 2A, have been working on team building and common goal-setting.

“The goal that I’ve had is to get our runners to race in packs at workouts, since pack finishes at races can improve our scores,” Sytsma said.

The team’s assistant coach, Lisa Beck, has been strategizing with the captains to ensure the runners are at their fastest and strongest by the end of the season. Much of the success depends on self-invested training, staying healthy and uninjured, and staying bonded as a team.

“Knowing the seniors for three years and watching how they’ve developed as athletes and as leaders makes me happy to spend my time with them,” Beck said.