Digging Deep into Cross Country Season

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Wesleyan School cross country runners are digging deep into the fall athletic season. With football, volleyball, cheer-leading and more, not many are aware of the vast percentage of high school students who participate in cross country. Although there has only been four meets so far, the Wesleyan cross country team has started off strong.

At the Battle of Atlanta, many of the runners achieved season personal records, or for sophomore Danielle Kelly, a lifetime record. The Battle of Atlanta in Hampton, GA, was the team’s first away meet of the season on Sep. 24. This was Wesleyans first time competing in this particular meet, and the results were outstanding. Overall, the team placed nine out of 31 GHSA teams. The boys are on fire this season and are on the road to their overall goal of the season, going to state on Nov. 2. Forty-nine boys on the team set season personal records at the Battle of Atlanta, which is unbelievable. Of course, this couldn’t have been possible without the guidance and constant motivation from the coaches.

In order to show importance and emphasize ideas and goals, the coaches use special catch phrases. When Chris Yoder, the girls’ cross country coach, was asked which of his phrases was his favorite, he said, “Digging deep.” The coaches really care about the runners and about “Building community,” said Yoder. They care about “Striving for excellence.” In doing so, the coaches, as well as the runners, build up and create goals for the season. Yoder stated, “Coaching makes me a better person. It has taught me patience, perseverance, [and] it has given me strength, it has given me joy.”

Several runners, including senior Mary Ortwein and sophomore Danielle Kelly, hope to achieve personal records this season. Ortwein is hoping “not to get injured” as well, and to make it through the season in good physical shape. It is also a cumulative team goal to make it to the state meet in November. Some of the boys, including Mac Howie, Stafford McDaniel and Fletcher Morris have had a compelling start to the season. One of the best parts of the sport are the memories made, not necessarily the results or the race times. As Yoder mentioned to the team, “My goals are always about the process and not about the outcome.” The hard work of the sport is more about what you get out of it along the way, the relationships and bonds that are formed, then the time shown on the scoreboard. If a runner truly puts all of their effort into the process, there will be outcomes far greater than simply the long days of practice in the heat.

At Covered Bridge on Sep. 7, the runners ran up to six minutes faster than their previous time and 68 boys set new season personal records. In regard to team placement, the varsity boys finished four out of 22 teams. The varsity girls team placed five out of 22 teams. Placement and times can really depend on the location of the meet. Luckily, Covered Bridge was a very fast course, unlike some of the other race paths.

The latest meet was a trip to Tallulah Falls. This meet consisted of the top 20 boys, as well as the top 20 girls. The reason the entire team didn’t go was because it was almost two hours away. The meet was called Cookies and Quotes. Each and every runner got a bag of cookies and an inspirational quote to take home with them. Every bag was decorated with each runner’s name on it. The entire team was ecstatic and made sure to thank Tallulah Falls for this generous gesture.

Cross country in the high school is working hard to make itself known throughout the fall athletic season. There has been so much success so far and although there is still an abundant amount of time left in the season, the end of the road is looking bright for the cross country team. The coaches and runners are looking forward to all of the fun activities and memories coming up this fall. All of the achievements have been outstanding and will continue until the very end of the season on Nov. 2 at the state meet in Carlton. The Cross country team is truly digging deep into the season and will undeniably achieve outstanding results. The season may only last several weeks, but the memories are sure to last a lifetime.

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