Cross country begins season with high expectations


Rachel McDonald, photographer

Cross country has had a good start to their season in hopes of making this year one the best one yet.

Junior Conner Watson placed first, earning the title of the Boys Individual Champion, at the Triton Earlybird Invitational. Watson is anticipating a great season and is proud of his team.

“We’ve been training hard, and our coach has got good workouts for us. We are really good at working as a team; we know who to pace with and how to run in packs. I’m most proud of our team members who were 5-7 place runners but were forced to take bigger roles because of lost runners,” Watson said.

The team also has new athletes competing this year who have been putting their hardest work in considering the obstacles that this year brought. 

“In preparation for this season I did running practices with our cross coaches and strength conditioning with Mr. Watson. Along with every other sport, COVID shortened the time we had to prepare over summer but it is a challenge that all teams are facing. I feel we have been able to handle it as well as we can,” freshman Stuart Luhigo said. 

There are many veteran athletes on the team, and with their experience, the team is hoping to be very competitive. Sophomore John Gries has been doing a lot to train for this season.

“My goal for this season is to drop my time down and get into the Top 20 more regularly. I also am hoping that we make it back to Semi-State as a team this year. I’m looking forward to the tournament season this year and the competition this year. I have been working in the weight room and working hard after school in practice to prepare for this season. Our team’s strengths heading into this season is that we have a competitive Top 10 and a large amount of veteran runners,” Gries said.

Many athletes know that they need to set goals and work toward them. Senior Haley McGhee has been actively training for this year to make her last year full of great memories.

“My goal for this season is to beat my personal record, and I’m most looking forward to being able to spend time with my teammates and bond with all of them. To prepare for the season, I have been focusing on following the training and workouts my coaches have been assigning to the team. As an individual, I’m hoping to improve my personal times this year. As a team, I’m hoping that we all collectively push ourselves to improve together so that we can place well in big meets towards the end of the season,” McGhee said. 

Sophomore Noah Rollings also set goals for himself and has been routinely working for this season in hopes of success. 

“My goal for this season is to be a consistent varsity runner. I am looking forward to fun memories with the team. I ran 3-5 times a week training for speed and long distance. I hope to just improve my time by the end of the season and I hope our team can make it midstate like last year,” Rollings said. 

Cross country is a gruelling sport, and sometimes competing for it means going beyond basics. Junior Erick Cornejo has been not only training but also working to better his athleticism and team. 

“I have become a more knowledgeable runner and educated myself on runner diets as well as stretching routines to do outside of practice. I have also been preparing mentally getting into the competitive mindset. I also want everyone on the team to have the same mindset as far as getting better. I trust the juniors will build the team better as well next as next year,” Cornejo said.