Looking back on running forward

Lillianne Harris, Staff Writer

It’s cold and rainy. Your calves are sore. Your foot is cramping, and there’s another runner on your tail that’s pushing you to ramp up your pace, even though you feel like you can’t possibly go faster. Even worse, there’s still two miles left in the run, and you’re behind your personal record pace.

In cross country, this pain is normal. Athletes run multiple miles each day preparing for these races, all building up to State.

A lot has changed for cross country this year, including the people on the team. Both teams have lost strong runners from last year, placing a lot of pressure on the seniors to perform their best.

“People are looking up to you as to what they’re supposed to do,” senior captain Brigitte Larkin said.

There are plenty of people looking up to the seniors this year, too—of the 65 people on the team, 32 are freshmen, with an even higher percentage on the boys’ team. This hasn’t stopped either team from getting to state, though, with the varsity teams being composed largely of upperclassmen.

“It’s a hard thing,” coach Mike Smith said. “You don’t want to burn out your freshman your first year throwing them into the deep end with the varsity kids, but some of them want to, and that’s really fun.”

Only two freshmen, Anna Grabowski and Sophia Halgren, are on the varsity team, and they’ve helped immensely in getting the girls’ team to state after losing a lot of speed from last year.

“The other freshmen are doing their own thing as almost a complete JV team, as opposed to having one big team,” Smith said.

However, this separation hasn’t affected the team’s chemistry. If anything, it’s aided it.

“I think this year we were a lot closer as a team. We did a lot more things together to get to know each other and hang out,” senior captain Luke Knoblich said.

Everyone was optimistic about the season, in fact, with both teams predicting that they’d reach at least fourth place, even though the girls’ team is currently ranked at seventh. This optimism, paired with some effort, was worth it, with the boys’ team taking 3rd place at State and the girls’ taking 6th.