As you walk up to the line, you look to your left and then to your right. Taking in the competition, you notice everyone is shaking in anticipation and most likely wondering who is going to take the lead and set the pace. Breathing heavily, knees shaking, feet ready to go. You think to yourself, how you will run the race and how it will affect your team. The gun that signifies the start of the race goes off, and we all take off, springing off the starting line.
THIS…is Cross Country.
Cross country is not just a sport where people run for fun. It’s a sport of hard work and teamwork, a sport where kids train everyday to get faster and faster. Cross country is a sport where kids try their best to beat their personal records while also trying to beat the competition.
Here at Sentinel High school, the cross country team is more than just a team. Philip Howard, a junior on the Junior Varsity team says, “It’s a great group of people. We are all part of the team even if we’re not necessarily in the same group, Varsity versus JV. We all get along very well. It’s a great group of people”. According to Philip, no matter what part of the team they’re on, the entire team gets along with each other very well due to their mutual love of this sport. After talking with a few freshman and sophomores here at Sentinel, they all liked the atmosphere of the sport and their teammates that they run with everyday.
Training for Cross Country is not at easy as it sounds. The race is three miles long over terrain that is rough and flat with at least one steep hill. Runners train in many different ways, running more than three miles during practice sessions. According to freshman Nadjia Rozinka, training is sometimes as long as eight miles during one practice.This helps build stamina and endurance so runners can stay focused with steady running pace throughout the race. The races are set up in large fields and golf courses three miles long, and every course is unlike any other in the challenges that they present. This is not an easy task for runners because the course is different every time. Being prepared for anything is the order of the day.
During this season, the Sentinel High School Cross Country team has run a total of seven meets. Seneca Tahbo, a junior on the Junior Varsity team, says, “Everyone’s season is going pretty good. We’ve been beating personal records every race”. In the most recent meet of the season, Sentinel had eight boys from the Boys Varsity team and 6 girls from the girls varsity team place above 20th place in the varsity race against all the schools on the west side of Montana. As the season came to an end, the boys varsity team took 3rd in state and the girls varsity team took 5th place. Nathan Dunifer, A Sophomore on the Junior Varsity team said this when he was asked to describe how it feels to run a race, “It feels good, I think that’s why I joined cross country was because I like to run and just how it feels to run”.
You have made it two miles so far and have kept a steady pace. Your legs are burning as you run up the steep incline. You start to feel your legs giving out, but you don’t give up. You hear the cheers of your teammates to your left as they cheer you on.
You push harder and harder, and finally you are at the top of the hill.
You feel the cool breeze on your face as you run down like the wind is pushing you. You notice there is no one in front of you, but you can hear the footsteps of the runners behind you. You don’t glance to see how far they are, but instead keep pushing. In the distance, you see the finish line surrounded by your teammates, family and friends.
You begin to run harder and faster, not even knowing where your energy is coming from.
You sprint, breathing as hard as you can and going as fast as your tired legs will allow.
You race towards the finish.
The cheers push harder and harder, and as you cross the line and feel the tape wrap around your body.
You have taken first for yourself, beating a personal record. But just as importantly, you have taken first for your team.
THIS…is Cross Country.