Warming Up For Fall Sports: Finish Lines and First Place

By Vira H., staff writer

Perhaps one of the most arduous high school sports is cross country. While it may not be the most common spectator sport, the athletes are some of the most self-motivated around. The majority of high school students despise running but this group of student-athletes got together almost every day of the summer and every day after school to run together.

Last year, the BT girls cross country team placed second in the state for cross country, and they have higher hopes for this year. “We have an extremely talented team this year,” said junior Katie McConnell. “I am looking forward to watching everyone’s hard work pay off at state.”

According to girls head coach, Ken Haughey, the team is good to go. “We are anchored by three seniors, Anna Gandolfo, Bailey Willett and Helen Marchuk,” he said. “Junior Katie McConnell has risen with them to become one of the premier runners in the state. Our fastest time posted this year to date has been posted by sophomore sensation Mary Claire Solomon. We have many freshmen that have the talent to bring the team to a new level.”

The girls team worked exceptionally hard all summer and brought on four new coaches.  Last Saturday the team traveled to Pensacola and won the Gulf Coast invitational.  “We have been ranked as high as third all class and are currently ranked 6th all class,” said Coach Haughey. “We have seven of the top 15 runners in 3A and are favored to take the state title away from St. Pius X. Our first chance to meet St. Pius X will actually happen tomorrow (Saturday, September 21) at Battle of Atlanta.

Blessed Trinity’s boys cross country team also did well in the state meet last year. After placing fourth in the 2012 cross country meet, the boys hope to improve on that record this year. “Our goal is to place in the top three at the state meet,” said cross country coach Chuck Oliver. “Individually, the goal for runners is to reach their maximum potential and personal goals.”

The boys have participated in two meets this season, placing as the top-ranked 3A team in both. “We haven’t been beaten by a 3A team yet,” commented Coach Oliver. During the Warpath Invitational freshman Ben McCoy tied a freshman record held since 2009, with a 17:26 time. “We graduated two of our top runners last year, so it is important to the success of the program for the freshmen to step up, and step up they did,” said Coach Oliver. Freshman Ben Simonsen was only one second off the freshman record.

Cross country runners possess a dedication and drive to succeed that is unique to the sport; when a runner is on a course, there is not a coach right next to them, motivating them to go faster and cross the finish line. The mentality of a cross country runner is extremely important because ultimately, the runner must become his or her own coach.

During practices the runners find motivation in their peers running alongside them after school. “I love running in races and the people I have gotten to meet through cross country,” said Katie. “This year at Nike camp, I met people from all over and it was amazing.”

Bring your Titan pride and support your cross country runners at races this season!