Junior Michael Jakab sprints to the finish line at the John Cooper Cross Country Invitational.
Cross country coach Nathan Labus predicts his team to totally dominate the field heading into his 11th year as head coach, even though fourth place was the final standing last season.
Multiple injuries held the team back as the season wore on, but Labus is hopeful for the future.
“We expect to place much higher this year. These guys have been training well.”
-Nathan Labus, Cross Country Coach
In order to do this, the cross country team follows a rigorous practice schedule. Sundays are long run days, while Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are short run days. These can be anywhere from five to eight miles of running. Mondays and Wednesdays are reserved for workout days.
Some runners are multi-sport athletes, such as junior Benjamin Muniz, who said that he feels running track helps keep him in better shape for cross country and that he performs much better with the combination of both sports.
Hard training is the first part of the formula for success, and there are some runners whose efforts will propel the entire team forward. They include seniors Wyatt George, James Hebert and Chris Kjellqvist. Juniors Matthew Coughlin and Luis Sanchez will round out the top five runners, while junior Krzysztof Kwiatkowski and senior Zachary Colby will be rounding out the top seven runners. Three out of the seven top runners are juniors, which is good news for the team, as it will be able to pass on its experiences to the younger runners when the seniors leave.
The second part of the formula for success is team chemistry. To build a bond between the players, the cross country team went on a trip to Colorado over the summer.
The two week long trip included some fun times with stops at several different locations such as Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado. This college is nationally recognized for its running program, so it was a great opportunity for everyone to practice at a higher level.
The team also spent a week in Durango, Colorado with Durango High School. Here, the team ran with Durango’s team, and this provided a great chance to meet others who share an interest in running long distances.
The whole trip went well, and it went a long way in preparing the team for their first meet on Saturday, Aug. 22, pitted our cross country team against St. John’s School. The total running distance was only a mile and a half, so while the race is much shorter than even short run days, it demands being finished as quickly as possible. Only the top five runners score points, so a lot of pressure was put upon them to place the team over Saint John’s in the competition. The meet is a good indication of things to come, as our team did end up beating St. John’s. It looks like Labus’ expectations have come to fruition, so far.
All in all, the cross country team is looking better than ever as the players have been working hard and building a bond that should guide them to success this year.