Varsity cross country team competes with ‘spirit,’ ‘dedication’


Photo credit: Kim Smith

The Archer cross country team begins to run their course. They competed in their first league meet and placed second overall out of eight schools.

By Audrey Chang, Editor-in-Chief

The varsity cross country team is one of the smallest upper school sports teams for the fall season, comprised of seven students from ninth to 11th grade. Despite their small numbers, they have had strong results during their season and are currently tied for second place in Liberty League after two league meets.

The team’s first meet was a league meet at Pierce College in Woodland Hills Sept. 15 where the course was at an incline and mostly made up of hills. Their second league meet was at Balboa Park Oct. 3. At both meets, the course was three miles long. The team also competed at an invitational meet at Brentwood School where more students competed than in the league meets.

Junior Kayla Bruce joined the cross country team last year as a sophomore. They said cross country was their first sport they have ever participated in, and they have especially enjoyed team bonding and improving agility and their times.

“Generally, cross country is a smaller team, but a [few] more people signed up, which is exciting. We’ve had [a couple] meets so far, and I think they’re going pretty well,” Bruce said. “I really enjoy practice, and slowly but surely, I enjoy running more.” 

Head coach Phil Smith has been coaching cross country and track and field at Archer for seven years. Smith said that he is looking to get more people involved with the team and looks to continue expanding their size.

“Since 2020, teams have been pretty small, so this is normal,” Smith said. “Of course, [the cross country team] had fewer people last year, so we’re looking to get more people involved. So if you know somebody who wants to definitely come out for the team, they are more than welcome.”

The team practices Monday through Friday and sometimes has additional practices on Saturdays. They practice at various locations depending on the day and the type of practice they do. In addition to practices on the backfield, the team also runs behind Archer, in the Brentwood area or the Manhattan sand dunes on weekends.

“I like the sense of community because cross country is very hard. We’re all trying to get to the end of practice and also improve and work towards getting a PR, so we’re always here to support each other,” Bruce said. “Especially when it comes to races, we’re always there to encourage each other, and when everyone else is done running, we’re waiting for the last person to get through — to encourage them to get them to finish.” 

Some of the team’s goals for the season include qualifying as many people as possible for CIF prelims, which will take place towards the end of the season in November, and continuing to have a variety of practices, varying both activities and location. Some of their practices focus on strengthening, endurance or speed and agility.

Sophomore Kate Hanney has participated in Archer cross country since seventh grade and said she has especially enjoyed getting to know students from other grades better.

“Team bonding [and] getting to know my teammates has been really fun,” Hanney said. “What I’ve enjoyed the most was probably [when] we do practices behind the school [and in the neighborhood] — those can be really fun.” 

According to Smith, despite small numbers, the team remains motivated and connected.

“There’s really good camaraderie,” Smith said. “We don’t have big numbers here, but the girls are spirited and hardworking and dedicated to the team.”