Cross country embraces a positive team spirit


Brigitte Larkin, Social Media Director

Coming off of four straight years of Liberty cross country trophying at state, the senior runners feel a positive team atmosphere is helping the strong group of returning varsity runners find suwccess in yet another season.
Maintaining its strong team atmosphere is an impressive feat, considering this year’s turnout of over 60 runners. The team has come a long way since Liberty’s first cross country team back in 1978—which consisted of only eight athletes.
“It’s larger because of the sheer volume of people we have, but it’s also a really tight knit group. It’s mind blowing how all of us can be on the same page,” senior Alex Hartford said.
A lot of the growth in the team size is seen in the freshmen class. Thirty freshmen are registered—19 boys and 11 girls.  Making up almost half of the team, they bring a fresh and new aspect to the team dynamic.
“The underclassmen really came through this year. Their energy is really shown through the whole team,” Hartford said.
While having a bigger team takes some adjusting, rather than tainting the team’s dynamic, the jump in size has made for an even more entertaining season so far.
“Having more kids hasn’t been a downside at all. The team wants to do well as a team; they want to have fun together as a team, and those kinds of teams are a lot more enjoyable,” coach Mike Smith said.
This year’s cross country team also has two team managers: seniors Collin Byrne and Dylan Maust.
“Collin and Dylan are the best! They make great managers who always hype the team up at meets with their crazy Liberty-themed outfits and cheering,” senior Bailee Hawkins said.
Last year, the boys team placed fourth and the girls eighth at State; with five returning State runners from the boys team and four from the girls team, there’s a lot of potential for both teams to do well in postseason. The team’s top returning State runners, senior captain Luke Knoblich and Hawkins, are leading their teams into this season.
“Both teams have the potential to do well at State. They just need to train solid and run hard all the way up until the end. And they know that; they have the right attitude right now. We just can’t have anybody get hurt,” Smith said.
Most recently, the boys won their tri-meet by 16 points and the girls team by 18 points against Interlake and Sammamish on September 19. The team is looking forward to the rest of the season with a positive mindset.
“I’m looking forward to the big invitationals and postseason because I’m really excited to see how both the team and I do in achieving our goals,” sophomore Kailee Johnson said.