A look at the Woodstock cross country team

Lauren N.

Staff Writer

The cross country runners at Woodstock High School are a dedicated bunch of students. While most would find it absurd to run for miles and miles around Towne Lake for hours at a time, the cross country runners welcome this kind of excitement. “Hard work and dedication are two of the most important qualities of a cross country runner,” explains cross country coach Mr. Kirk Scharich. This season’s results prove that the team’s dedication is paying off.

Cross country is a sport in which runners have to push themselves to keep running. Participants of this sport must run for extended periods of time. They run through trails in the woods, through neighborhoods located near the school, and just about anywhere they can run. Senior runner Morgan O’Toole declares, “The hardest part about running cross country is trying to pass someone in a race.” This is understandable. People can only imagine attempting to drag themselves for miles, 3.1miles to be exact, along a treacherous trail merely to lose to some runner who can put her right foot in front of her left in a more timely fashion. This is what propels the cross country runners forward: determination to pass that other runner.

This determination most definitely shows. This season, the team has worked very hard to get in the position that they are in now, having several runners going on to state. They prepared for this season much in advance. Before summer vacation, Coach Scharich established a goal for the team to accomplish. They were to run up to 500 miles in one summer! All the varsity runners completed this goal; this was a perfect way to get the team pumped and in tip-top shape before the season even began.

The cross country team worked just as much prior to the beginning of the season as they do now. They started practicing as a team back in June, and they practiced in the mornings. That is right; this dedicated group of students arose from their comfortable beds much earlier than the majority of the rest of the school for almost the whole summer. Throughout the season, the team has kept up this intensity. The runners lift weights and run an average of six to eight miles a practice.

The teams did extremely well this year, with the JV girls and boys consistently dominating. Both varsity teams proved to be very solid. During the last weekend of September, the cross country team made a trip down to Cocoa Beach, Florida, to compete in a meet called FL Runners; it is probably the biggest meet in the entire southeast, making competition extra fierce. Why would the cross country team go all the way to Florida for a meet? “Exposure,” answers Scharich. “This meet is a great way for the runners who want to continue running in college.” While the Florida meet may have been the farthest away, the cross country runners have found plenty of success much closer to home.

On October 12th, the team set out to Cherokee High School to compete in the county meet. All teams, including JV, received 2nd place. For girls, junior Alexandra Melehan got 2nd place. For the boys, junior Owen Bailey won 1st place. This was a great outcome for teams, and coach Scharich was very proud of all his runners.

On November 9th, Owen Bailey and the entire girls cross country team traveled to Carrollton, Georgia, to compete in the state championship. Bailey placed 13th in State; with a 16:53.25 time, he placed higher than any other runner in our whole county! The girls team, which consisted of Alexandra Melehan, Morgan O’Toole, Brittany Burnett, Rachel Steppe, Alayna Cagle, Catherine Moreau, and Taylor Poole, placed 15th for the whole state. Melehan, who placed 7th with a time of 19:38.86, had the highest place at state girls cross country in Woodstock High School history. O’Toole also had a commendable showing, placing 19th with a time of 20:02.17.

Cross country is a sport that anyone can join. However, it is not a sport that everyone can endure. The team is pushed to run distances that most Woodstock students could not even dream of running on a daily basis. The runners worked hard, and their hard work really did reveal itself in the team’s results.

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