Cross Country team making strides

Photo courtesy of Dave Stewart // Runners sprinting for the finish during the FCIAC Finals at Waveny Park.

The Cross Country season ended October 21st at the FCIAC championship in Waveny Park, New Canaan. Westhill placed 16th with 466 points in the Team Results. Westhill faced a challenging season this year because there were no seniors on the team. This lack of upperclassmen caused a lot of trouble in that even the most veteran runners for Westhill had less experience than those on other teams.

The Cross Country team is split into two sections: Varsity runners who run a five kilometer marathon, and Novice runners who run three kilometers. Due to the lack of boy runners, all male members (even first year freshman) ran Varsity. Some students had never run competitively before and were now put into a class with seniors from other schools who had been practicing the five kilometer run for years. Although this situation may look grim to an outsider, the new members of the team took it in stride. “Freshman runners, although talented, had a harder time keeping up. But we are determined to improve over the next few years” said freshman Liam Macdonald. This determination will hopefully crossover to the next seasons and will allow freshman, like Liam, to perform better when they are older.

Stories of alumni runners, like Claire Howlett who now holds the record for the Girls 5K, inspire new runners. They feel as though it is their responsibility to fill the shoes’ of their past teammates. But motivation is only half of success. Mr. Lane, the team’s coach, emphasizes on the importance of pre-season training. Cross country requires the students to train their endurance over the summer. “By the time they were in shape,” Coach Lane says, “the season was over.” The team’s motivation must be focused for them to succeed, and Mr. Lane thinks this is where it will be most beneficial. “Fairfield County is a tough place for cross country. We’re going up against boys where if they not winning the championship, they’re in second.” This competitive atmosphere around the sport makes Westhill seem like an outlier, not placing highly in rankings. But the team’s developing passion can help them succeed in the future.

The girls Cross Country team faced the same problem as the boys. A majority of the runners were freshmen or sophomores. All the girls ran Novice over season with one exception. At Westhill’s first meet in Ridgefield, CT, freshman Lauren Klym ran varsity to test her strengths. “She shows a lot of potential,” Mr. Lane comments.

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