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Why Cross Country?

The endurance sport appeals to certain athletes.

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Freshman Taylor McCreedy and junior Ashley Wendt warm up at the State meet. Photo by Erin Wendt

When you think of cross country, what comes to mind? Hard practices, tough coaching, running miles, and shin splits. Over 450,000 high school student-athletes participate in the sport, according to Trainingpeaks, a website devoted to endurance training. For the 2017-2018 school year, 18 girls and 17 boys decided to take on the hard practices and tough coaching.

According to head coach Vargason, kids should go out for the sport because running is a lifelong activity. He said that it is something you can start in high school, and continue on with. Vargason said,  “It builds character and reveals character, so it’s something you can use to learn throughout life. It’s a great way to join something whether you have skills or not or experience or not something you can just step into and get better at.”

It builds character and reveals character, so it’s something you can use to learn throughout life. It’s a great way to join something whether you have skills or not or experience or not something you can just step into and get better at.”

— Dan Vargason

The most common cross country workouts include the fartlek, mile repeats, and tempo runs. A fartlek run is when the runner alternates fast and medium paces throughout the run, while a tempo run is usually 3 to 5 miles going at about 90% of your race pace. To be a cross country runner, you need to be “mentally and physically tough,” according to JV runner Grace Bruckner. Throughout the race, there are constant turns and hills. Runners need strength over speed, according to Trainingpeaks, to accomplish these tasks.

Dawson Dreager, a JV runner, stated, “You run your heart, try your hardest. You don’t have to be fast, you just have to want to get better.”

Cross country is the right sport for 35 students at AHS, but others choose not to participate.  Students have a variety of opinions to choose from in the fall including volleyball and football. Petersen, who was one of two runners to qualify for the State cross country meet said, “(It’s a) sport that pushes the limits of your mind and body when you’re constantly surrounded by friends and family.” Football player Tyler Moen said, “I think cross country would be difficult, but I don’t think it is as hard as some people make it out to be.”

Some students at Atlantic High School have different opinions about the sport. Senior Josh McLean said, “It’s stupid, why would anyone want to voluntarily run?” Jesse Reid, a sophomore, describes the sport as “pointless running.”

Other students have a more positive opinion about the sport. Sophomore Mckenzie Waters said, “Runners are very dedicated and I give them props for being in cross country. I think it’s a really hard sport.” Cambry Miller has a similar opinions to Waters. Miller said, “I think that I would never be able to do it and the runners work really hard.”

Under the leadership of head coach Dan Vargason and assistant coach Julia Gross, the varsity girls’ team placed in the top three at most of their meets. The girls’ team did not place in the top three in only two meets. The placed fourth at the Trojan Invitational and placed fourth at the State Qualifying meet held at the Atlantic Golf and Country Club. The varsity boys’ team often placed in the top ten, with junior Jalen Petersen usually placing in the top ten individually. Throughout the season, the JV teams ran at nine meets while the varsity teams ran at 10 meets.

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Why Cross Country?