The Wesleyan Cross-Country team started with the sound of a gun, running full force into their new season. As cool as that would be, their season took off on July 30th at eight in the morning with a three-hour bus ride to Wilderness at the Smokey’s in Pidgeon Forge, TN.
The cross-country team traveled to Tennessee for cross-country camp for the last week of summer. The team spent the week on intense trail runs along with a good balance of water slides mixed in. The three days at cross-country camp gave the team the “opportunity to bond with the team and just to experience the “camp life,” said junior Jamarcus Turner. These three days are an incredible way for the team just to kick off the season and get to know each other outside of a school setting.
After camp ended this year, the season began officially with practices on Aug. 16th. The team practices every day after school, running all over campus. Practicing five days a week certainly is not easy, but “it is cool to watch our practice pay off throughout the season,” said junior Anna Turner.
At the beginning of the season, everyone on the team sets personal goals for themselves to achieve for the season. “I try to teach them [the team] to set difficult goals and learn how to take the steps to achieve them both in cross country and in life,” said Head Coach, Chad McDaniel. Cross country practices every day of the week, and the heat really does not make it easy. However, the team stays committed in order to better themselves. Almost every runner has a goal for this season. “My goal for myself this season is to always run in practice regardless of how tired I am,” said freshman Gray Bradach.
The team is dedicated to improving both personally and as a whole. “My personal goal for myself this season is just to get better and better every meet,” said sophomore Adyson Means. McDaniel has “a few goals for the team each year. The first is to understand that relationships are more important than performances, and my love for them is not dependent on how fast they are. And secondly I want to tell them about Jesus in a number of different ways through the season so that they would know Him in a real way. From a competitive standpoint, every year I want our teams to win the region and be in the top four in the state with a chance to win.” The state meet takes place on Nov. 2nd, so until then the team will be working long and hard to prepare.
Cross country runners even devote most of their Saturdays during the season to competing cross country meets. They wake up at the crack of dawn and spend the morning running and cheering on their team. Freshman Sam Cleveland said that “my favorite part about cross country is spending time with my friends, even at the meets when it is super early, I still love being with my friends and the rest of the team.” Many of the runners’ goals for the season revolve around the meets. Jamarcus Turner’s goal for this season is “to stay healthy [for meets] and just contribute to the team in the best way possible.” Freshman Paul Baisier’s goal for meets is to “get below a 24-minute 5k in a meet.”
On Oct. 6th the Varsity cross country team will travel to North Carolina to participate in the Great American XC Festival. “The Great American is a great opportunity to build community with the team and just have fun, while also trying to accomplish our goals and compete,” said senior Will Parrish.
Overall, “the most rewarding thing about cross country is the long-term relationships built as a part of my job at Wesleyan. I am thankful to be a small part of their [the team’s] story,” said McDaniel.