Note : The following column was published in Wootton’s Common Sense newspaper.
October 21, 2017 was one of the greatest days in the history of Patriot cross country. On that date, our team competed in the Montgomery County Championships at Gaithersburg High School, racing against other schools from the county. With the temperatures in the 70s and the sun bright, counties was outstanding not only for the boys’ and girls’ varsity teams, who finished second out of 25 teams in their respective races, but also the Patriot runners who dominated the JV underclassmen and upperclassmen divisions. Out of 25 schools, our team placed first or second in each of the six races, a testament to our team’s depth (over 120 runners) and talent. The majority of runners, myself included, recorded new personal best times and marveled at what we could achieve together on such an important stage.
Next fall, our team has the chance to be even better. The team has never been bigger, the opposition has never been stronger and the stakes have never been higher. As one of the team’s captains, I’m biased, but something special is brewing by the Frost Hill, and we want you, the prospective cross country athlete, to be a part of it.
Patriot cross country has fielded strong teams in recent seasons, but next fall’s squad represents the school’s best shot at winning championships at the county and state levels. The girls’ team, which has finished in the top three in the state the past two seasons, returns six of its seven varsity runners, while the boys’ team brings back five. Nine of these 11 athletes will be seniors in their final, climactic season. The junior varsity teams retain most of their runners from last year and are favorites to repeat as county champs. The chance to race and train with a historic team is an incredible opportunity that should not be passed up.
To the average high school student, running long distances can seem like mindless torture and those who run can appear maniacs. I won’t deny those inferences (some of us are a bit crazy), but the physical benefits of cross country are worth it. Each race is a taxing 3.1 miles, which forces athletes to build up a strong endurance base. With steady training, improvement is visible each step of the way, and by the end of the season athletes reach a peak of physical fitness that defies even their own expectations of their potential. Not everyone will break 20 minutes in the 5K, but the satisfaction of performing one’s best makes all of the miles and workouts count.
Training with one of the best teams in the state and getting in prime physical shape are two outstanding benefits, but Patriot cross country wins its biggest gold medal in creating an enjoyable team environment. I’ll admit, when I joined the team as a freshman, it took a while to break in with my teammates. But over the past three years, I’ve loved growing, working and racing with the team. As any sports team can attest, being able to share in victories and defeats adds a dimension of bonding that can neither be replicated nor forgotten.
Interest meetings for 2018 cross country will be held on May 23 at 5 p.m. for incoming ninth graders and after school on June 6 for current students in coach Jacob Buxton’s room. There are no cuts, but athletes must attend the three weeks of mandatory training during August and practices every day after school during the fall.
Cross country is a challenge, a veritable Frost Hill of an athletic endeavor. The training will be difficult, but once you reach the top, you’ll know that it was all worth it. Unlike the Frost hill, you’ll look back fondly on the running and how you reached the top. We want you to run it with us.