Chasing higher achievements

Cross country hopes to improve unity, qualify for state


Valerie Benzinger

The cross country team practices a long run at Harmon campus before school on Friday, Sept. 13.

The cross country team has been working toward earning a higher rank in the district this season. Its efforts are showing through the improvements in the three meets the team has competed in so far. At the most recent meet on Thursday, Aug. 29, the team placed third out of 26 teams total, with only a four-point gap between reaching second place.

“We’re doing well,” cross country head coach Heather Moss said. “We’re ahead of where we were last year in our varsity boys’ division, so we’re really happy with what we’re seeing in our progress right now.”

Since this is both Moss and assistant coach Melissa Cook’s second year with the team, they are learning to cater to the unique abilities of each athlete. This works as a contributing factor into the team’s improved placing this season.

“We understand our athletes better [this year],” Moss said. “We understand that some need to be specialized and trained a little bit different, so we’ve customized workouts for some of those athletes. We’ve also changed our tempo in practice because you have to practice fast to race fast.”

With the cross country season recently starting, players have high hopes for this season. The team aims to go farther than ever before.

“We’re going to try to make it past district and go to regionals,” senior captain Jeremiah Hudson said. “We might not make it to state, [but] that’s the goal.”

This year’s upperclassmen are focused on helping the younger runners as they train together. They give their teammates support because they want to work on improving team unity.

“This year, they’ve really supported each other and made their own running group,” Moss said. “The seniors take the initiative to make sure everyone feels like part of the team. They hold everyone, even the underclassmen, accountable for what the expectations of our program are.”

After training throughout summer break, each individual player has grown to be faster and efficient while racing. Now, a primary concern is running in each race as a team rather than as individuals.

“Everyone is better at cross country now, so it really improved everything,” senior Jacoby Emerson said. “[Improvement] helps encourage the new people.”

The cross country team trains every day before and during school in preparation for meets, with varying practice regimens they alternate between in order to get ready.

“If we do a long run, we just go into our long run, but if we have sprint workouts, like we usually do Tuesdays and Thursdays, then we’ll do a 2-mile warmup, come back and stretch for a little bit then we’ll go,” Hudson said.

With the district meet taking place on Friday, Oct. 18, the team has an optimistic outlook on the remainder of the season. The Milesplit TX XC Invitational meet at South Lakes Park in Denton on Saturday, Sept. 14 will show how this year’s team compares to other schools in the district.

“This Saturday, we’ll compete against all of [the members of our district] at our meet,” Moss said. “It’ll be a good chance to see where we are and see what we may need to modify and change. We can see where we rank as we move into district.”