Making a run for it: Cross Country’s First 5K

Varsity Girls circle up before their race creating a huddle that as much unites them one to the other as it may unnerve their opponents. “I like the community that we share and how everyone supports each other in Cross Country,” senior Reagan Beach, leader of the “Hype Circle,” said.

Jenny Loveland

Varsity Girls circle up before their race creating a huddle that as much unites them one to the other as it may unnerve their opponents. “I like the community that we share and how everyone supports each other in Cross Country,” senior Reagan Beach, leader of the “Hype Circle,” said.

Jenny Loveland, Staff

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A majority of the runners on NC’s cross country team set new personal records this Saturday, either by running their first 5k race or outdoing their previous time. The team traveled to Rome for the 28th Annual Ridge Ferry Invitational. 

To prepare for the day, runners woke up at 4:30 am to eat a nutritious breakfast and make it to NC on time to ride the bus. During the hour-long drive to Rome, students caught up on much-needed sleep before the races. The team arrived, and soon after, the races began.

The weather treated the runners well, remaining breezy and cool up until the end, and runners ran on a paved and grass trail that led around Ridge Ferry Park. The mostly-flat course aided the runners in making their admirable times but also battling two steep hills. Although the team did not know the area, they performed well and exceeded their own expectations.

“This was our first 5k. A lot of kids PR’d (beat their personal record) and it looks like the JV Girls are coming away from this with the third-place trophy, so we’re really proud,” Head Coach John Huff said.

Hopes for this season remain high due to talented incoming freshmen and returning runners who stepped up to fill the shoes of last year’s graduates. This year, three freshmen earned spots on the varsity team, already, setting a trend for the season and forcing former varsity runners to fight for their spots at the top. While some animosity might be expected, seniors instead look at the situation as a way to grow the next generation of runners. 

“I like being one of the few seniors on the team because I get to be a leader and see the underclassmen improve,” senior Molly Henkes said. 

Henkes regularly takes the lead on the team, along with the other upperclassmen.

“[The meet] went better than I expected. I think our team has a chance at going to State,” sophomore and returning runner Gracelyn Eaton said. 

To runners, cross country means more than just making varsity or going to state. It becomes a way of life, dedicating a significant portion of their time to training and racing. Eventually, the early morning and grueling workouts change into the feelings of accomplishment and belonging as they finish a difficult race or cheer for their teammates. 

Jenny Loveland
For some of these teammates, they have run with each other throughout their high school experiences. “Running has been a big part of my life for four years and I really enjoy it. It takes my mind off of things and it puts me in a better mood,” Varsity runner Gracie Peardon said. She runs alongside Aydin Dasher during the race.

“I definitely give up a lot of sleep on Saturdays when I have to wake up early for meets, but I love being able to see all my friends every day at practice and I love cheering on the team at meets, so it’s all worth it,” junior Jaime Deutchman, another returning runner said. 

Deutchman helped to lead the “Hype Circle” that the girls’ team forms before their races along with a prayer, a tradition passed down from former runners. This helps to establish a bond between runners, creating a sense of cohesion that raises morale and strengthens friendships. 

The sacrifices made by the runners pay off when the results came in. In every race, NC placed in the top two-thirds of the teams that competed. To make state, the team must place in the top half of the teams at Region, and NC grows closer to this achievement with every race run. 

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