Sitting on the bus, on the long drive to the big race. The athlete knows he needs to get mentally ready to run if he wants to compete well. He could listen to music, visualize how he wants to perform, or just sleep, but either way he needs to get in the right state of mind.
“Once I get on the bus, I usually just put my earbuds in, listen to music and space out until we get [to the meet],” Said junior cross country and track runner Ethan Argue.
This method has been working for Argue, as he and the cross country team get ready for NCS, Argue said.
For cross country, the entire team has to qualify for NCS, and if they do well, then they could make the state championships, Argue said.
“On our team, the top finishers don’t really matter,” Argue said. “The fourth, fifth and sixth runners are the most important because they are ones that are the difference between the team doing well or not.”
Argue is currently one of the top 5 runners on the men’s varsity team, along with seniors Sam White, Reece Proctor, Walter Teitelbaum, and sophomore Jack Donaldson.
While the top finishers are very important, the team’s success is often based off the performance and placement of the later finishers, said cross country coach Jeanine Holmlund.
“Those runners act as buffers, as tiebreakers to hold spots to allow our team to have more higher finishers than the competition,” Holmlund said.
Donaldson and Argue make up those fourth and fifth spots, and their success this season has been one of the big reasons why the men’s team could make it to the state championships this year, Donaldson said.
In addition, the new strength and conditioning coach Maurice F. Scott has made a large impact on many runners on the team, Argue said.
“He has definitely helped me with my running,” Argue said. “I feel like I am really improving this year, and that the work I’ve put in will help me not only for cross country but also for sprinting during the track season.”
Many cross country runners also compete in track and field in the spring season, and doing similar training and exercises in both seasons is beneficial for both teams, said Holmlund.
“The training we do helps build endurance, but also speed which is really useful for long and short distance running,” Donaldson said.