An Insider Look on East Lake’s 2018 Cross Country Team

A detailed look at the Cross Country team’s upcoming season.

Michael Welborn starts off the race strong at the Jim Ryun Invitational.
Photo by Tyler Copeland

Michael Welborn starts off the race strong at the Jim Ryun Invitational. Photo by Tyler Copeland

Mario Shontz, Staff Writer

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Throughout the last several years, East Lake High School’s cross country team has made quite a name for itself. In 2015, 2016, and 2017, the boys teams won the PCAC Championships, meaning that they beat fierce competition from Osceola, St. Pete High, Clearwater, Northeast, and many other Pinellas County high schools.  Although the girls have yet to win a county championship, they have gotten very close, placing in the top four teams in the past two years.  With such high expectations and big shoes to fill, will this year’s varsity team rise to the occasion?

Kevin Maguire, a fellow cross country runner, has a few words to say on that topic. He believes that as long as the team remains focused and motivated, “who knows what could happen?”  Even though East Lake lost multiple runners due to graduation, most notably James Hasell, who had an impressive 16:04 time as his personal record, East Lake still has a very strong varsity team, with Michael Welborn at the helm of boys team with a 17:12 person best and Parker Valby at the head of the girls team.

So far in this season, the cross country team has had two meets, with one just around the corner this coming Saturday.  Both meets were at the same course, in Holloway Park in Lakeland.  Named the “hardest course in Florida,” and rightfully so, the course is filled with a combination of inclines and declines, twists and turns, and a lot of mud.  I don’t believe that anyone actually enjoys the course, which is unfortunate as there is still one more meet for the team that is scheduled at that same location. However, despite all the downsides of this course, East Lake has run the course well with many great times from its varsity team. Michael Welborn pulled off a 17:59 in the first meet of the year, and two weeks later dropped that time to a 17:30.  This trend followed most of the team as well, with almost every runner showing improvement in their times from the first meet to the second.

With the season starting off strong for East Lake’s cross country team, things are looking very promising so long as everyone plays their part and keeps both physically and mentally strong during both training and meets. I am as excited as anyone to see how this season plays out!

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An Insider Look on East Lake’s 2018 Cross Country Team