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Side by side: Seventh graders Zoe Butler, Isabel Kromwyk jog into middle school cross country season

Seventh graders Zoe Butler and Isabel Kromwyk run side by side on a sunny afternoon during cross country practice. Middle school cross country coach Kiaira Bostic said they are both determined athletes, and she looks forward to seeing them become stronger runners this season. Photo by Marcelle Dulan.

Two seventh grade student athletes head to the backfield three-to-four times every week with their team for cross country practice. Middle school cross country coach Kiaira Bostic described them as “athletes that can’t get enough of their sport” and as a “breath of fresh air” in the running community. These two runners and friends are Zoe Butler and Isabel Kromwyk.

Last year, Kromwyk and Butler both ran track and field. They were league champions in their individual events and relays races. Butler placed second in the 800-meter race at the California Interscholastic Federation meet. For relays, Butler and Kromwyk typically ran the 4 by 400-meter and 4 by 100-meter relay races.

Butler said she finds relay races fun because she gets to work with her teammates when passing the baton. The relay team won both events at CIF finals last year. Kromwyk also ran the 1600-meter race and earned third place.

This season is Butler’s first and Kromwyk’s second year on the middle school cross country team. Bostic said Butler was a valuable runner on the track team last year and continuously had a positive spirit.

“Zoe is always the silly one — always wanting to put a smile on everybody’s face and wanting to push forward,” Bostic said. “She’s always going to push and go to the end. She’s never going to complain, and she’s never going to stop … I love that about her … Zoe was a huge, huge part of the team last year, and it’s really great to have [her] back.” 

Similarly, Bostic said that Kromwyk has a positive and strong mindset; despite Kromwyk’s recent toe injuries, she continues to persevere in both running and soccer. Kromwyk also attends soccer practice multiple times per week and plays games on weekends.

“[Kromwyk] goes to about six practices a week — three-to-four practices for cross country. She also goes to soccer practice three-to-four times a week and plays soccer games on the weekend,” Bostic said. “I think she is the most dedicated athlete that any coach could ask for. She never complains. She never says she’s tired … She is determined, dedicated and focused, and I love that about her.”  

Last year was Bostic’s first season coaching middle school cross country. She said one of the main values she hopes to instill in her athletes is commitment to finishing everything they start with focus. When it comes to cross country, Bostic said it is essential for the girls to have a calm mind in order to reach their goals.

I want them to understand that you don’t always have to be the best in everything, but you should finish everything you choose to begin,” Bostic said. “I try to have conversations with my girls and make sure they are in the right headspace. I know a lot of them struggle with anxiety issues and stress with school, so I try to make cross country practice like their safe haven for them to be able to come, relax, be themselves and be able to talk amongst each other … the biggest thing I want them to know that when you’re running, it’s peaceful … it’s really for you to experience and understand what calm means to you.” 

Butler said her older brother, who runs track and field, and Kromwyk inspired her to begin running. When thinking about her priorities for this season, Butler said she wants to focus on figuring out what she likes and dislikes about cross country running. She also said stamina is a key skill for both track and field and cross country and hopes this cross country season will help prepare her for track and field.

“This season, I’m not necessarily looking to win every competition,” Butler said. “I’m mainly looking to feel it out to see if I want to do it next year, [or] if I just want to stick with track and field. But so far, it’s been really fun and not as hard as I was expecting it to be.”

Kromwyk was inspired to join track and field because of a family member: her dad, who ran in both high school and college. She said her favorite part of the sport is the feeling of accomplishment after a run, and cross country teaches her important life skills.

“[Cross country] teaches me to pace myself when running, but it also teaches me to be more aware,” Kromywk said. “It teaches me to pace myself and really think critically about how I run.”

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Emily Paschall
Emily Paschall, Senior Reporter
Emily Paschall joined the Oracle as a staff reporter in 2022. She is now a senior reporter. She participates in dance at Archer. She is also a part of the Ambassador Leadership Team Advisory Board and Dance Leadership Team. In her free time, Emily enjoys spending time with family and friends, listening to K-pop or Taylor Swift, and playing with her dog.

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