Runners take your mark with this season’s cross country team

Jenna C.

Staff Writer.

Step after step brings the runners closer to the finish line as they run their race. The athletes breathe in through their noses and out through their mouths; they do not allow anyone to pass them. From the start of the race, they must pace themselves. Going too fast in the race slows them down in the end, and going too slow in the beginning puts them in last. The cross country runners know all of these techniques. It is a second nature to them. Being a cross country runner is very hard work, with all the practices, conditioning, and meets. They need a passion to run and a good attitude. The cross country team members must look out for each other, guide one other and make each other stronger.

Leading the team this year are Head Coach Kirk Scharich and Assistant Coach Wakely Louis. “They do an excellent job coaching cross country,” says Mr. Scott Krug, assistant principal and athletic director. “Cross Country’s participants have consistently increased ever since Coach Scharich began coaching. They are some of the most dedicated coaches, and they get the most ability out of every athlete.” Coach Scharich, who ran cross country in high school and in college, says, “I was inspired to coach cross country because I get to be around the most disciplined, hardworking students in the school.” The runners also inspire Coach Wake for their dedication and hard work. The coaches plan on pushing every runner to do his or her part, helping the team make it all the way to county, region, and then state. Coach Wake says, “Last year’s performance was marvelous! Both boys and girls went to state last year, and I want to do just as well this year.”  

In order to achieve the outstanding season that Coach Wake wants, the runners need a reason to run. Sophomore Andrew Maneen says he runs cross country because it is a great team sport, while newcomer sophomore Colleen Cromer runs cross country because she loves to run. Of course the runners need motivation to run this very brutal and demanding sport. “I one day wants to be in the Olympics.” says sophomore Michael Buckles. Every runner is a wonderful asset to the team, and they all plan on doing their part on bringing the team to county, nationals, and to be the top four in the state.

Running is much harder than people make it out to be. Cross country requires discipline, which only a few students in the school really possess. They wake up at around 5:30 A.M. to come to practice at the school. Then after school, they still practice, running around 30 miles a week. This sport may seem hard and pointless to some people, but really cross country is a rewarding sport that “gives you team concept, diversity, and great health,” according to Coach Wake. After a while, athletes get the passion inside of them to run. That is what all of these athletes have.

Cross Country’s first meet was on Saturday, September 8th, at Berry College, where varsity girls placed 4th. Coach Wake says that their toughest competition will be Walton High School; they are in a very tough region, with many talented schools. The runners have prepared and conditioned for the upcoming meets, especially senior athlete Sam Mixon, who is the most improved runner. “This year his times are much improved over last year’s,” says Coach Wake. “His timed trials were outstanding.”

Coach Scharich says some of the standout students who run cross country and who show determination and hard work are seniors JC Cornett and Makensie Block; juniors Morgan O’Toole, Rachel Steppe, and Keaton Wallace; and sophomores Owen Bailey and Alexandra Melehan. “These runners really stand out because they have great endurance, they have the ability to improvise, they are mentally tough, they can run through pain, they listen well, they have great stamina, and they are relentless,” says Coach Wake.                Cross country has many benefits; it gets the student in shape, it gives students discipline, and it makes students realize that they need to work hard for the goals they want in life. The athletes are not just representing themselves when they wear their uniform; they are representing Woodstock High School. Coach Wake and Coach Scharich do an excellent job showing these athletes that they need to put others before themselves. Woodstock High School’s cross country team is excellent and deserves much recognition.

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