September is over and the training wheels have officially come off. The fall sports season is in full swing, and with it has come one of the most popular sports at Lakeside: cross-country. We talked with a couple of runners to check in on how the team is doing so far.
Sophomore and veteran cross-country runner Jack F. discussed the potential for this year’s group. For Jack, who initially started the sport for social reasons, cross-country quickly grew on him—it was love at first run. He enjoyed the team spirit and, surprisingly, the pain. In his own words, Jack describes his passion for cross-country, saying “I enjoy the struggle of pushing yourself to run faster and farther.” When asked about the prospects of this year’s team, Jack responded: “Well, we lost a lot of seniors last year, but we also got a lot of promising freshmen. I think we are looking good so far, but we will see when we have our first meet.”
It seems as if Jack’s optimism was well founded as the team exceeded expectations at the Bellarmine Invitational. Many new runners made a splash, with freshman Reggie H. earning a tenth place finish in the freshman two-mile event, averaging a blistering 6:01 pace; fellow freshman Megan K. also crushed the competition with an outstanding first place finish in the same event. Last year, the team also had a myriad of impressive finishes from its JV members at Bellarmine, including a top ten finish from then-freshman Charlie M.
Nonetheless, the cross-country team has undoubtedly declined in participation since last season. Contributing to the smaller roster was a significant number of boys who switched from running to playing football—the 2019 football team is Lakeside’s largest ever, with 48 total players. Ex-runner Michael W. was one of the many boys who decided to start playing this year; he explains why he and others changed sports: “People said it [football] was a lot of fun, and a lot of people were looking to switch from other sports and activities they didn’t like, e.g. a lot switched from cross-country and ultimate.”
For Michael, running high school cross-country was not a particularly positive experience. Michael initially began running in 5th grade to replace his original fall sport, soccer, and enjoyed it for its social aspects. In the high school, that changed. His friends, differing in physical ability, ran separate routes, which meant “…less socializing and more running.” No longer fond of the sport, he moved this year to football, which he found to be an environment he was keener on: “The atmosphere is really great, and it feels a lot closer than cross-country. Also, lots of fun on game day and during practice.” He says even without this year’s football wave, he still would have switched out of cross-country.
Love it or hate it, cross-country is still immensely popular, and the team has nabbed some noteworthy successes early on this season. During the interview, Jack F noted he hoped this year’s team could live up to last year’s legacy: “I really hope we do well at metros, and I hope the varsity team can qualify for districts and metros. That would be amazing for the team.” Whether or not setbacks in participation will hinder their goals, we will have to wait and see.