About to start their run, the cross country team walk towards their starting point. (Crystal Tran)
About to start their run, the cross country team walk towards their starting point.

Crystal Tran

Cross country races towards season

August 20, 2019

Various sports that take place during the fall season, cross country happens to be one of them. However, being a fall sport may mean the season begins at the very beginning of the school year. Cross country is one of the many sports that season begins early in the year. 

To be ready for the upcoming season, cross country must start practices earlier than other sports.

“Practices have been great,” cross country coach Stacy Bolser said. “They’ve been consistently well attended with all of our summer workouts that we’ve had.” 

In addition to having good turn-outs to practice, S. Bolser also feels this season will be promising.

“I’m excited for the kids that have come out,” she said. “They’ve worked hard all summer, I’m already seeing great improvements, and I only expect to see that continue throughout the season.”

Crystal Tran
Listening to cross country coach Stacy Bolser, the team is told what the plans are for the day. Cross country practices in various locations, including Earlham college and around the school.

Some runners on the team feel that those summer workouts will help them in season.

“This season’s going to be different because we have a lot of guys,” sophomore Landon Smith said. “More than we had last year. We’re going to place better and we’ve all been working our butts off over the summer, so hopefully, we do better.”

Long-distance running can be challenging to some, but practices are meant to help and strengthen the team’s runners.

“We do dynamic stretching,” S. Bolser said. “One day we’ll do a long run. We’ll have some of our top runners running ten miles a day on that long run day. Other days we’ll fill in with tempo runs or some hill workouts to develop their base mileage and to get some speed work in under their belt before the season begins.”

As the season begins, people begin to have hopes for what’s to come.

“I feel like his season is going to be really good for us,” Smith said. “Especially for the boy’s team because we have a lot of guys. The girl’s team is going to be pretty good too. I feel like we’re going to place pretty well in sectional and NCC.”

Although there has been an increase of male runners, the team is in need of more female runners.

“For the boys at least, I think that the goal is to do better than they have at sectional,” freshman Shelby Bolser said. “Maybe possibly win sectional is what we were talking about. For the girls, we don’t have enough people to even make a team so pretty much just for us to do our best.”

Crystal Tran
Holding shirts, runners who participated in non-mandatory practices were rewarded with free shirts. The majority of the team went to those practices and received shirts.

Bolser agrees, but feels confident that the girls will also do good this season.

“Our main goal is for our boy’s team to advance out of sectional as a team,” she said, “Instead of just individuals. We will without a doubt have individuals boys, but our goal is to have the boy’s team advance together. We will have some girls advance to sectional as well.”

Many people join cross country for various reasons. Some people just enjoy running.

“I know a lot of people say running is really hard,” Sh. Bolser said. “But if you’re having a bad day it can help your mindset. It can also help you become stronger physically and mentally as a person.”

Others found inspiration to join the team through their commitment to other sports.

“I joined cross country because I wanted to cross-train for swimming and get better at swimming,” Smith said.

For coach Bolser, the opportunity to coach cross country seemed too good to be true.

“Being the head coach of track,” she said. “It was a natural fit to transfer to cross country as well. A lot of people have a good background in running distance. I’m excited to help develop and change the running culture here at RHS. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Talking to the team, cross country coach Stacy Bolser leads the practice. Bolser is also the coach for track.

Although running is usually seen as an individual sport, there are teams. And with teams, comes bonds.

“We’re a close-knit crew,” Smith said. “We really just work through it and help each other out.”

Sh. Bolser hopes to grow a better bond with the girls on the team.

“We only have two girls on the team right now,” she said. “But just running together I think that later in the season that we’ll all be really close.”

Others feel the summer helped in building the team’s bond.

“The team bond seems pretty close right now,” S. Bolser said. “They’ve basically been running together since June, so they’ve spent at least three days together. I’ve seen them become closer and reach out to each other independently to go on runs in different outings.”

Smith feels the boy’s team will do well this season.

“Our strengths are that our boy’s team, at least, has a lot of fast guys,” he said. “And we’re going to really compete. Especially when it comes to sectional and NCC, stuff like that.”

Others believe it’s the attitude of the team that is their biggest asset.

“One of our strengths is the enthusiasm that I’m seeing from the kids already this early in the season,” S. Bolser said.

However, there’s always room for improvement, Sh. Bolser believes this could be found through recruitment.

“Our weakness is that we don’t have that many people all the time,” she said. “So I think if we had more numbers that would be better.”

Crystal Tran
Standing on the right, sophomore Hayden Scalf laughs at a joke. To his left, senior Josh Jones will be competing in his last cross country season at RHS.

Some believe some weaknesses could also be strengths.

“One of the weaknesses could be that we have a lot of new faces,” S. Bolser said. “Be it with freshmen or with guys that have never run competitively on the cross country team before. However, that could also be a strength. To see them develop and become a more cohesive team than in years past.”

Others think that they’re an overall solid team.

“I don’t really think we have a weakness,” Smith said. “We’re just that good.”

Sh. Bolser recommends joining the team for various reasons.

“If you’re interested in joining cross country,” she said. “It’s super fun, you’ll make new friendships, it’s a good way to get to know people, and it’s just a good, fun sport to do.”

S. Bolser agrees, believing it’s a sport that will always be there for you.

“Running is a lifelong sport that you can always take with you and use,” she said. “It’s a great stress reliever, we have a lot of fun. We’re a small close-knit group, so the bond and team aspect is really neat to be apart of, and it’s something that you’ll always be able to use no matter how long or old.” 

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