This past Saturday was our cross country conference meet. For anyone who’s a runner on a team, or for any team really, conference is a big deal. You train all season so that you can do your absolute best at conference. After that, any meet is just everything you have left. So, as my team headed to the meet in Wisconsin for the 2 hour drive, we headed there knowing that everything up to that point-being at practice everyday at 6:00 a.m., pushing it in every workout, being smart about injuries and doing what’s best for the team despite wanting to finish a full long run or workout, and summer mileage-it all came down to preparing us for a great conference meet.
On the bus ride heading over to the meet, it seemed like any typical trip to a meet except there was a different energy in the air and excitement than before other meets thus far. It was quieter than usually and it was as if the focus of every individual on the bus was concentrated into one small area, allowing everyone to feed off the vibe of the next person.When we got there, we went about our usually routine which consists of setting up our team spot, walking/jogging the coarse, stretching, doing strides from the starting line, and lastly our team huddle. During the team huddle, you could just feel the adrenaline pumping through each person. After our team huddle, we did our special BenU girl’s cross country cheer, and I am certain we were the loudest we’ve ever been all season. We were ready to race.
We got on the starting line and each of us high fived each other.Afterwards, we waited in silence as the starter announced 1 minute until the start. As always, I could feel my stomach tighten up with nerves and excitement. It’s honestly the most terrible feeling and best feeling at the same time. 30 seconds. 10 seconds. Bang! The gun rings in my ears as I realize my feet are carrying me with the thick crowd of runners striding out into the open field. I find the group of my teammates, the same group that run beside me day after day of training, and we run as best we can together as a pack. We push each other throughout the race. A feeling of pride in one another gives way each time we pass a runner from a different team. We continue to move up in the race and we feel strong. Nearing the finish, we all dig in to find what we have left and allow our passion for running and love for the team to lead us to a finish line. My pack of 4 teammates all finished within 9 seconds of each other. I was so proud of my teammates and our ability to work together. Our top runner finished 10th overall, and our team as a whole did very well placing us 4th as a team for our conference.
I am extremely grateful to be part of a team with such hard-working individuals. We have all come from a variety of different size high school teams and different areas. but together we make a strong, dedicated team. For many, conference is an emotional race because it is the last of the season. It is always especially hard for the seniors who end at conference. We have a large and amazing group of seniors and they will be greatly missed! So happy to have run with them and I am excited for one last chance to run with some of them again for Regionals!