Sprinting towards Success: Breaking down the 2021 Cross Country season


Leilany Zarco, Staffer

Expectations for the Future
The boy’s cross country team is currently facing preparations for their upcoming meets. As they go into the postseason, there is high anticipation and expectation. Boy’s Cross Country Coach Jamin Swift talks about the team’s goals.

“Districts are coming up in two weeks, and the top four teams move on to state. We are ranked third right now, with an outside shot at second. Our goal is actually state at this point, but making it shouldn’t be a problem,” said Swift.

For Swift, the biggest challenge moving forward will be earning a trophy by getting a podium spot at state. However, Senior Chris Obersteadt feels confident in the team’s abilities.

“As we go into the postseason, we have a very strong team. We are seen as the underdogs going into state and we take it in stride. We know what we are capable of and are excited to prove it to everyone else,” said Obersteadt.

Featured Runners of this Season

This season, there have been multiple runners that have been highlighted for their accomplishments. Senior Luke Voelker had a historic performance at the Conference Championship Meet.

“I ran the fifth-fastest time of all time on Ray-Pec’s home course, which is pretty exciting as I’ve run on this course probably 16 times, and to know one of those times was historic is pretty cool. It was my last race on our course, which also makes ending with a win a nice touch,” said Voelker.

Now that the regular season is ending, Voelker has had the chance to reflect on his goals at the beginning of the season, and what he is anticipating moving forward.

“My specific goals were breaking sixteen minutes on our home course, breaking the school record, and being top three at state. I’ve done the first, and hopefully, the next two are on the way in the coming weeks. Another goal I’ve had is team success. I had the pleasure of being part of our state championship team two years ago and I want our current team to get the feeling of shared success that the state championship team was able to have,” said Voelker.

There have been many other “rising stars” as well, according to Swift. These runners have been working their hardest to improve in their sport.

“Christ Obersteadt has definitely been one, Freshman Carter Younger and Sophomore Rydan Deckard too,” said Swift.

While this season’s team has worked hard to have impressive turnouts at their meets, they also recognize the importance of having fun. The athletes understand that cross country is not just about getting a faster 5K time. The ability to enjoy the sport they dedicate themselves to is equally important.

“My favorite memory of cross country so far was the trip we took to Kentucky where we stayed in what was probably the most sketchy motel in all of Louisville. I would also say the runs and pasta feeds, where it was just the guys laughing and having fun, are a close second,” said Obersteadt.

The Key to Success
With the accomplishments of this season, the team has been able to find its secret to success.

“Hard work. As a group they all work very hard, there is lots of good teamwork. We do running in the morning and afternoon almost every day,” said Swift.

The coaches have noticed that a positive mindset and a productive work ethic are the overarching traits that the runners possess. The team has a common understanding of the importance of effort in the manifestation of success. Voelker talks about his love for cross country.

“The thing about cross country that attracts me to it is the direct relationship between effort and results. There isn’t really a lot of luck or talent involved, it’s a pretty simple sport. As hard as you work at practice is the amount of success you’re going to get out of it,” said Voelker.

For people who place such high value on hard work, having a bad performance can easily make failure seem synonymous with laziness. It is easy to fall under the mentality that hard work does not, in fact, pay off. However, this team has learned to embrace their setbacks and use them as a stepping stone.

“No matter how I perform, my teammates have my back, which is always a huge helping hand. I generally take bad races as a challenge and just train even harder the next week to run faster,” said Obersteadt.

The team has built a support system for one another by working as a unit to lift each other up and push each other to do their best. Obersteadt talks about how his team helps each other.

“The key to this team’s success is the team’s ability to keep each other accountable and pick each other up when we have hard days,” said Obersteadt.

Words of Encouragement
On October 30, the team will be competing at the district tournament in Bolivar, Missouri. As the stakes rise and apprehension grows, some of the more experienced runners offer their guidance.

“My biggest piece of advice is just that success is really whatever you make it. If someone’s goal is to be on JV, then it’s a success when they make it to JV, and I’m all for celebrating that with them. Whatever someone believes is possible in cross country is achievable, it’s just a matter of the work put in along the way,” said Voelker.

And this team has certainly done just that. They have worked endlessly, training twice every day, to prepare for their upcoming competition.

If the district tournament goes well, the team will advance to the state tournament in Columbia, Missouri on November 5. With this goal in mind, Swift his words of encouragement.

“With the amount of miles we’ve put in and the amount of work we’ve put in, we should feel confident to run with some of the best in the state,” said Swift.