Cross country season wrap up

Cross country season wrap up

Jessica Borowsky, Sports Reporter

As the cross country season came to an end, it was evident that the Ranger team improved extensively throughout the season. From the first meet to the last meet the runners practiced immensely to better themselves and their teammates. This particular season was difficult as well. Runners dealt with extreme heat conditions, injuries, and large amounts of rain, but that did not stop the team from reaching their goal. Although not coming in first, the girls team was proud to finish behind Forest Hills Northern in second place with three all-conference runners: Freshman Whitney Currie, sophomore Nicole Marco, and junior Susannah Bennett. The boys team finished third in conference with three all-conference runners as well: sophomore Gabe Carlson, senior Leo Walquist, and freshman Kyle James-Heer.

“Both teams saw huge improvements throughout the season. Some runners even saw as much as a four minute drop from their first to last race.” said head coach Gus Schipper, exemplifying the drastic improvement runners had this season.

The Ranger team began practicing mid-June to prepare for the competitive upcoming season. Along the way, coaches implemented morning swim practices, weights, and yoga to make help runners deal with injuries and improve their strength. These workouts proved to be influential to runners later in the season as they ran quicker and were shown to have fewer injuries.

“Swim and yoga helped us better recover. This helped us race and perform workouts better.” says coach Schipper.

Going into regionals this past Saturday, many runners knew it could be their last race of the season if they did not qualify for states. From both boys and girls teams, one runner qualified for states, freshman Whitney Currie. Whitney was the girls team top runner throughout the season and has been training this past week to prepare for states.

“I would love for Whitney to just gain some big race experience and enjoy herself. She has had a great season so far by becoming FHC’s fastest freshman lady ever.” says coach Schipper who is training Currie for her upcoming race.

As for the runners who did not qualify for states it was sad to see their season come to an end, especially for the graduating seniors. This past season, the Ranger cross country team had thirteen seniors, all who were beneficial to the team. For many seniors, they knew regionals was going to be their last race on the team. This helped push some to finish out the season strong; for others they chose to dress up and run with fellow seniors.

Knowing it is hard to say goodbye to runners after coaching them for four years, coach Schipper says, “I will miss their smiles after a breakthrough performance.”

They key to ending a strong season is knowing how you plan to tackle next season. This past season was strongly led by underclassmen who have the capability of reaching higher goals in next year’s season. Coach Schipper plants to go into next season with the same way he tackled this season. But along the way, he plans to evolve with the team’s health and schedule. From this past season, coach Schipper noticed two runners who stood out and improved immensely.

“We have had a lot of runners improve throughout the season, two that came to mind are Olivia Bunnell and Zach Devries. They will both run with a lot more confidence next season and keep on getting faster.”

These two runners, as well as the rest of the team, improved through their hard work, commitment, and ability to grow as a team. By the end of the season, as like any other sport, the team had spent a lot of time practicing. But for cross country, it seems to be more noticeable. Through morning practices, yoga, weights, and the root beer mile, it was impossible for the team not to grow closer. Throughout the season runners helped encourage and push other teammates to better themselves. Now that the season is over, the friendships made through this past season will carry on through the school year and to the next season.

As noticed by coach Schipper he includes “Both teams grew extremely close throughout the season. We spent a ton of time on and off the course. It is vital to our success to lean on teammates during workouts, trainings, runs, and races. We stride to provide a one of a kind environment for cross country.”

As the season came to end end for majority of the runners, reflecting back it is evident that there were special moments shared by the team during races. At one particular meet, the Allendale Invite, almost every runner ran their season or personal best time, which allows runners to see improvement within themselves.

“The Allendale Invite was by far the best race of the year. The weather was perfect and it was during the best time of the year when we expect to run fast.” says coach Schipper in excitement.

Knowing that the main goal within cross country is to run fast, there are also other key factors that hide behind that one goal. It is also very important for runners to breakthrough their shell and realize their importance in the team.

“My favorite part of the season that I coach is seeing the raw emotion of a huge breakthrough. Our sport is stressful and hard everyday. Seeing kids grow throughout the season and see their hard work pay off is extremely important.”