Varsity cross country sprints through season, reflects on triumphs, challenges


Photo credit: Kim Smith

The varsity cross country runners take their marks at the league final meet. The runners collectively came in second place and beat their league rival, Pacifica Christian school. Throughout the season, every member of the team set a personal record.

The varsity cross country team took their marks and ran in the first official CIF meet of their season on Saturday, Nov. 16. Coming off of a second place finish at league finals and the defeat of their rival, Pacifica Christian School, the team viewed qualifying for CIF as “the icing on the cake,” sophomore runner Lauren Robson said.

Last year, Amelia Mathis served as the head cross country coach for the team. However, this season, the athletics department welcomed three new coaches — Ena Leufroy, Alanna Coker and Crystal Manning — who were “really trying to intensify the cross country program,” Robson said.

Although the adjustment in coaching staff seemed “abrupt” and “difficult” at first, Robson described qualifying for CIF as a “big moment” for the team, “because we were able to see all of our hard work pay off.”

With new coaches come new strategies and philosophies, and for the team, that meant weekend practices along with running roughly 5-8 miles during their after-school workouts.

“Our coaches don’t know the word ‘lose’ or ‘stop’ or ‘tired’ — they only know one word, and that is win,” sophomore runner Chidimma Nwafor said. “That was their mindset the entire time: ‘You keep going, you keep pushing, you’ll eventually win.'”

In Nwafor’s second year running for the team, she said the start to this season as “really hard” as well as “different” from what she was used to.

“There were always moments where I was constantly saying, ‘I don’t know if I can do this, I don’t want to do this, I’m done,'” Nwafor said.

However, Nwafor said the work she put in during these practices eventually paid off when she beat her post-record time from the previous meet by four minutes.

Along with Nwafor, the rest of the team was also able to PR, which led to their eventual victory over Pacifica.

“It was the best that I’d ever run in the season,” Nwafor said.

In comparison to previous years, this team was made up of two seniors, seven sophomores and one freshman. Nwafor said the team was “huge” in comparison to last season; however, many athletes chose not to participate in the program this year.

“Pushing ourselves has brought us closer together because we can all bond over what we’re going through,” Nwafor said.

In regards to next season, Robson reflected on what she considered a “great” year and said she feels “excited” for what the future holds within this program.

“I wanted to push myself and run hard and not regret anything that I did,” senior captain Sophie Larbalestier said. “It was really exciting to do so well.”