Hard work, preparation readies Wildcats for cross country season

Isaac Severing, Reporter

In a sport where you may expect to see a lot of individual effort and little emphasis on teamwork, you might be surprised to see the WSHS Cross Country runners acting like a family.

The Wildcat upperclassmen on both teams often take younger runners under their wing and build strong friendships, according to Junior Cristian Posada. These runners know how hard the sport can be; they do their best to support their teammates through the season, Posada said. 

In an interview with the boy’s cross country coach, James Gaul, and the girl’s team coach, Erin Focht, the intensity and significance of off-season training that occurs over the summer was explained.  

 “Two hundred miles for first-year high school cross country runners; 300 miles for second & third-year high school cross country runners; 400 miles for fourth year runners. These miles are important so that when we begin the season in August they have a good cardio base, and we can really get into the timed workouts and prepare for the races,” Coach Focht said.

This off-season training is very important to the success of the team. Coach Gaul reflected, “…in our division of the OCC where we compete against two perennial top 15 teams in the state, and in central Ohio in general, if you don’t train with focus and purpose in the summer, you will pay for it on the course during the season.” The emphasis put into preparation shows how much these teams need fitness to compete, even with natural ability.

While natural ability in an athlete does play a role in how competitive a runner will be on the course, the effort a runner puts in is just as important. 

A top-five runner, Senior Isaac Combs, said, “You’re going to have a natural ability in many different ways… You have to want to win, if you don’t want to win, you won’t.” He said it takes more than natural ability, but also your mindset and the effort you put in that makes you the best runner you can be.

“For bigger races, we train fairly well.  We get our track workouts in and get our mileage in… we even discuss the course and how to prepare,” Senior runner Karina Deere said.

The off-season efforts of these teams seems to be paying off. According to Posada, a second-year runner on the team, “I’m feeling really good about our performance this year. I’ve been able to see a huge improvement in a lot of our runners from last year to this year.” 

It seems like this season’s cross country teams are both very invested in their training, teammates, and improvement. The payoff is several second and third-place finishes in several meets so far. The runners are currently getting ready to go up to Hilliard Davidson and prove themselves again.