Cross Country commits to winning


The runners are at their marks for a 2017 fall season as our school’s cross country running team looks forward to another fun season of beating personal records and dominating the other schools in the county. “Cross country is fun because of the camaraderie with your teammates, and because you are constantly challenging yourself to do the best you can,” head coach and math teacher at the school William Drake said.  “I enjoy coaching for the same reasons I enjoy teaching. It’s just a different subject. I’d join them in the races if I was allowed.”

Cross country races are won when the first five runners from a team cross the finish line and receive the lowest number of points that correspond to their place. In practices, runners work on their personal record (PR) so that they can have success as a team during the meets. “It’s important that everyone is scored separately and can use their score to improve,” sophomore Caitlin Cunningham said. “The weight of the team isn’t carried on one person’s shoulders, so combining everyone’s score makes us work together and builds team spirit which pushes everybody to work harder.”

Runners don’t have to be the best to join the team. Physical ability is only one of many only aspects of cross country. The team works hard to encourage and support each other during meets and practices. The cheering from the team keeps runners motivated to give it their all when it matters most. “We have many talented runners,” sophomore Lucy Robinson said. “We cheer each other on and have fun!”

In her fifth and final season of cross country at our school, senior Abby Fry was named one of the captains of the team. Over the five years that Fry has been running, the team has maintained a positive and inclusive environment for all runners. “Now that I’m captain, I’m trying to make sure the team has spirit and camaraderie without becoming clique or too exclusive,” Fry said. “It’s nice to see successes among my teammates.”

Despite runners and captains having come and gone, the team’s atmosphere has not lost any of its motivation and positivity. A lot can change in five years, but younger runners have been able to fill the shoes of the graduated captains. “I’ve seen are so many influential captains and seniors come and go,” Fry said. “The runners are just as driven and encouraging as years past.”

Starting the second week of August, the team had optional practices every Monday through Friday morning, doing a variety of workouts, including sprints, hills and long distance runs.  “I think they are important because they gets you in shape for the season,” sophomore Chris Bird said. “And if you are a newcomer, you get to meet the coaches and make new friends.

Coaches also admire the runners who decide to commit to the team and believe in the importance of getting in shape before the rigorous fall season ahead. “How much training one does during the summer has a significant effect on how well you perform during the season,” Coach Drake said. ”Those that do not run during the summer will not only be less fit when the season starts, they will also be more injury prone.”

The school’s cross country team has had a lot of success last year from eighth graders to seniors and many runners were able to run their PRs. ”We had a strong season,” Coach Drake said. ”The boys varsity qualified for the regional championships, and several of the girls had very strong seasons.”

Over the last  four seasons, the team has the reputation of being the best in the county. One of the goals the team has is to extend their reign over the other schools in Arlington. “The team wants to stay county champs for a fifth year in a row,” junior Kelton Williams said. “That would be awesome.”

All the hard work from runners and coaches will be put to good as the team competes in a race at Bluemont Park on October 18, where the team often runs during practices. “I look forward to watching the runners improve throughout the season,” Coach Drake said. “It is very satisfying to see how happy the runners are after they have run their personal best time for a course.”