Cross country takes state meet in stride

The cross country season came to a close in a historic way this year; the boys team qualified for state for the first time in 13 years. Sophomore Olivia Wisont also qualified individually for state, as well as setting a sophomore school record.

“The mindset going into the race was making sure we were very organized,” Head Coach Kelly Richards said. “We were preparing the athletes for everything they could encounter as far as being prepared for the weather, the routines before the meet and the expectation for how many people were going to be in the race.”

Coach Richard’s efforts did not go to waste as three out of four boys runners set personal records at the state meet.

“We were just out there to have fun and see what would happen. We didn’t psyche ourselves out or get too nervous,” said senior Andrew Vernon, who set a personal record.

Senior captain Liam Elias said he had a similar mindset going in. “I went into the race trying to have fun and enjoy myself. But I wanted to push myself, because I’d worked really hard to get to the state meet so I wanted to make the most of it.”

The top finisher for Inglemoor at state, Ray Vernon placed 39th overall. Vernon had a unique mindset going into the race.

“I tried a different strategy. I usually try to start off fast, and see if I can hold the pace, but at the state meet I tried to conserve my energy and pass people at the end.”

Vernon said he wanted to try something new because he was feeling so good going into the race. Although he finished with a time of 16:07, just 12 seconds off his personal record, Vernon said he felt like he may have set a personal best if he had used his regular strategy (starting fast and holding the pace).

Coach Richards was also trying something new at the state meet. Because Richards had a squad full of first-time qualifiers, her responsibility as a coach was greater than in previous years. This year made Richards realize how much she as a coach “relies on those veteran runners to tell everyone what the process is like.” Without former state qualifiers there to direct the newer runners, Richards said she had  to be very careful and make sure she walked everyone through everything very thoroughly.  

Now that the 2017 cross country season has come to a close, several runners reflected on the season that is now behind them. Vernon said he loved watching how far the team came through the year.

The team also formed a close bond over the course of the year, which encouraged Elias, especially in his state race.  

“Teamwork is really big, and it can motivate you to run even faster than you normally could,” Elias said.