Crossing the finish line

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Crossing the finish line

Last year’s team at the end of the year.

Last year’s team at the end of the year.

Last year’s team at the end of the year.

Last year’s team at the end of the year.

Amber McGinnis, Staff Writer

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This time of year, people tend to be focused on the football season and think little about a less watched sport that is arguably just as challenging: cross county. Much like the football players, these teens practice every day after school and face grueling workouts. I decided to ask a few of my runner friends what they think of this year’s season, the practice the meets, and who seems to be doing great so far.

 

Senior Mario Shontz said that the past seasons of cross country at East Lake High have been very successful and the team intends on keeping that trend stable. This year’s first meet was the Jim Ryun Invitational all the way over in Lakeland, Florida. Mario says that this course in particular is not his favorite because of it being very muddy at some parts and very hilly during other parts; these conditions create a course that is rather challenging for even the best runners. Because of the difficult terrain, it can be expected that this is not the location where runners would be getting new PRs (personal records). Even with the struggles they had to face, many East Lake cross country competitors still performed rather well. For the boys, Michael Welborne placed 15th on the course and for the girls, Parker Valby placed 3rd, an impressive accomplishment, beating out hundreds of runners going against her. Despite the rough beginning, Mario said it was still “a great start to the season.” He is very hopeful for this year and believes it will be a good season for East Lake.

 

Another senior, Kevin Maguire, also had a bit of input on this season, saying “the new season is fine,” clearly not nearly as enthusiastic as Mario (I have no choice but to assume his lack of excitement is due to exhaustion from the workouts, as I interviewed him soon after he got home from a long practice, which displays just how hard these runners work, all enthusiasm is simply gone afterwards). Along with that, Kevin said that the meets are “cool and have good competition.” He explained to me that the practices are “pretty okay but the speed work days can be hard.” According to him and Mario, the hardest workout days occur on Tuesdays and Thursdays (I guess the “T” stands for tough). Kevin’s favorite workouts to do are the long runs, they are “the most fun” in his opinion. He likes those because the team can “get in more distance” and they “get to have a lot of fun with [the rest of the team].”

 

Along with Michael and Parker, as mentioned above, Kevin also included that he has seen Carter Reed, Dakota Speed, Andrew Poratta, Noah Snare, Chandler Wright, and Rob Benincasa doing a wonderful time this season. These are just a few of the many talented male runners that East Lake High School has. As for the females, Kevin also mentioned Bella Pawloski and Emily Rollins. He included that Parker set a new No. 1 in the state when she attended the North Port XC Invitational with a stunning time of 17:46:90.

 

 

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Crossing the finish line