Cross Country Hits Final Stretch with No Regrets
Oct 06, 2016 03:51PM
● By Travis Barton
Runners take off at the beginning of the Murray Invite at Murray Park on Sept. 9. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
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By Travis Barton | [email protected]
In Tera Patrick’s first year as head coach of the Highland High School Cross Country team, she has not only seen an increase in team numbers, but a perspective shift with a new focus.
Patrick said the team’s ultimate goal is to have no regrets.
“Anytime you race or have a hard workout that you’re leaving it all out there. That you’re not going to come back making excuses to me, your family or worse, yourself,” Patrick said.
In a fiercely competitive region, the cross country team has built competition within its own team by simply increasing its numbers.
“We’ve got a very young team…we’ve got a good competitive edge this year,” Patrick said.
The Rams have 56 members on the team, almost triple the amount it had in 2015 with 20.
Patrick credits the recruiting of her captains, particularly junior Kyle Adams, for the increased numbers this year.
Adams and girls captain Tilda Wilson said the recruiting involved some tricks. Wilson, for example, told a classmate that the key to running cross country was he could release hanging branches to hit the people behind him.
Fellow girls captain Ardyn Ford said the atmosphere of the team has changed over time to create a more enjoyable experience. There were less than 20 people on the team when Ford, a senior, joined the team.
“It’s a very different environment…it [used to be] more intense for the people on the team and it’s just more fun now,” Ford said.
“We want them to enjoy the racing and not be stressed by the pressures of that,” Patrick said.
The large number of new additions has helped improve the Rams’ racing.
“Having depth is always nice because you get good competition,” Patrick said. The girls team has been very talented.
All of the varsity girls’ times are within a two-minute spread of each other, while Adams said the boys team is seeing weekly improvements. At the Murray Invite on Sept. 9, Adams said they had 12 boys all get times under 20 minutes. Something only eight boys did last year.
“If we can keep this up and keep the team motivated towards the future, we can have a really good scoring team,” Adams said.
That competition will help the team prepare for its region meet where the girls team expects to compete with Woods Cross for the last state qualification spot.
“We’re in a very challenging region so it’s been nice to have these girls be so excited being competitive with these teams and fighting for that spot,” Patrick said.
Patrick said she would love to see everyone on the team run a personal record during the year and has been impressed with the team’s progress, especially the freshmen.
“We’ve already seen freshmen drop seven minutes off their times, which is great because then they embrace the sport a little bit more and talk more people into joining,” Patrick said.
With more members entering the cross country fold, the team has achieved a measure of camaraderie. Adams said the team has a great spirit, which helps them to motivate each other.
“It’s really nice to have a group to run with and pace off of because you’re motivated as a group instead of by yourself,” Ford said. “We want to qualify as a team so you want your teammates to do well.”
“You feel responsible for your teammates, but it’s also individual, I like that combination,” Wilson said.
Having that team chemistry can help with possibly the most important aspect of cross country—mental strength.
“That’s part of where ‘no regrets’ comes in…because your brain is your biggest competitor out there,” Patrick said. She has outside coaches come speak to the team as well as having the seniors speak to the underclassmen.
The mental edge played a big role for Wilson when she lost her shoe midway through her trail race of the Murray Invite.
“It’s so hard but you have to stay positive…you have to pretend like you’re enjoying yourself, that’s the key to cross country,” Wilson said.
Ford said it can be easy to start thinking negatively when running up a hill in a difficult race, but when you focus on your objective, like beating Woods Cross, it helps your mind drown out the pain.
“You have to hold onto the good workouts and the good races and remember that three miles is not that far compared to what we run every day [at practice],” Ford said.
Adams said he tries to remember his team when looking for the necessary mental strength.
“I’m not only running for me but I’m running for my team score as well,” Adams said. “We all help each other out with the mental game.”
Regionals will be held at the Cottonwood Complex on Friday, Oct. 7.