Feet pounding. Arms pumping. Flashes of purple uniforms as women’s cross country runners speed by their opponents. Sneakers screeching. Rackets swinging. The ball flying through the air as the women’s tennis team fiercely competes with their rivals. Both of these teams won the North Coast Section (NCS) finals of their respective sport.
The women’s cross country team ran their NCS meet on Nov. 18. Now that they have won league and NCS, they are preparing for state.
“We know that our biggest competitors are O’Dowd and Alameda, so staying ahead of them and knowing that we beat them in league and we can beat them again will be important [for winning NCS].” said cross country runner and junior Margo Donahue, before the NCS meet.
Donahue said another possible reason for the team’s continued success, besides their speed, is how close-knit the team is.
“We get through the pain together,” Donahue said. “Even if we’re having a bad race, our team will be there to support us. We’re doing it because we love each other.”
Sophomore Sophia Zalewski said she started running for the cross country team in sixth grade.
This type of hard work is what allowed the team to win league and to make NCS, Zalewski said.
While the cross country team is resting and preparing for their state race, the women’s tennis team played their final match on Nov. 11, when they won NCS. The team has not lost one of their league matches in 18 years and they have a five year NCS win streak
“It was a very exciting moment because we have been playing Branson in the finals for seven years,” sophomore tennis player Emily Becker said. “It was such a great feeling to end the season with a strong victory.”
Sophomore tennis player Austen Elvekrog said that the Branson rivalry was a big part of the reason why the win at NCS was exciting.
“It was very stressful at first, but once we won the first four matches it was super exciting because we knew we beat our rivals.” Elvekrog said.
Varsity tennis coach Jim Landes said that the fun the team had was the best part of the season.
“Winning NCS was awesome, but this particular team had very good chemistry,” Landes said. “They spent time with each other on and off the court.”
Chemistry was an important part to the team, but another very important aspect was the depth of the team, Landes said.
“There have been a lot of good coaches before me, but coaching only goes so far” Landes said. “The players you have is more important. You can have one or two really good players, but you need to have depth.”
Elvekrog said she started playing tennis the summer before freshman year.
“I had moved from Massachusetts and I played ice hockey, so I was looking for a new sport.” Elvekrog said.
Becker said that she started playing tennis in seventh grade for fun, but it quickly turned into something more.
“I began playing a lot and really enjoyed it,” Becker said. “I thought it would be too late to start a sport, but I played everyday and learned pretty fast.”