Running Against the Odds

By Gwen Reusing

The Léman cross country team emerged victorious from this season, outperforming all their competition in the ISAL league. The team had had two wins this fall with both the varsity girls and ⅞ grade girls winning ISAL championships. Previously, the cross country team had never won any titles, making these wins historic.
The team is co-ed and consists of 7th/8th graders all the way up to seniors. Younger runners are able to significantly improve their technique and stamina by training with older runners. Even though the sport is technically individual, Blair Walsh, a member of girls varsity, says there is definitely a “team aspect”.
The sport does not garner much attention at Léman. Cross country is long distance running. The competitions are usually 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) and running this distance can seem daunting. Last year, there were less than 5 girls on the team and they therefore did not qualify to win as a group. The team has certainly grown since then.
Sofia Doucette, a sophomore on the cross country team, said she found the sport to be underrated, and she believes it is. “Yes, because I think cross country is a great simple way to exercise and it is something that you can do on your own, at any age. How often do you see 60 year olds playing lacrosse, soccer, football and how often do you see 60 year olds running?”
The sport requires a high commitment. The team attends 1-2 meets weekly in addition to practices. Athletes are also encouraged to run on weekends and on some days when practice is not being held. However, the hours of training certainly paid off for the team. Blair Walsh, a Léman junior, spoke of her experience with running, as well. Walsh placed first overall for girls in  ISAL championships. When asked about her experience with running, she stated, ”Running is definitely such a difficult sport, and can sometimes not be so fun. But it’s so rewarding and gratifying crossing the finish line each time, especially knowing if you pushed yourself the hardest you could.”
It can be very difficult finding the motivation to run regularly and when asked about how she manages this, Walsh said that she makes goals for herself and works towards them throughout the season. There are also other motivators that the team has, specifically when it comes to running in meets. Many, including Walsh, have a post race-ritual of eating Lloyd’s famous carrot cake. 
Ms. Molina is the coach for cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track. In the minutes leading up to the start of the race, which can be stressful, Ms. Molina tells athletes that trying their best is all that matters. “Run your own race”. She assures them that they shouldn’t be discouraged by the other, larger teams, many of whom recite loud chants. The team certainly proved that they are a force to be reckoned with this season.
Later this year, a banner will be created for cross country. It will be hung up in the Morris gym with what will be the first of hopefully many cross country titles.