Story by Sarah Emily Rish

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Photo by Barry Lindler 

Sweat pours down the foreheads of cross country runners as they practice for their upcoming meets this season. All of the runners, both new and returning, know that the hard work that they put in will pay off for them.

“Our expectations and goals are always championships,” head coach Barry Lindler said. “We want to start with a region championship, then a mid-state championship, and then the state championship.”

As a senior, Nick Dorman sees the improvements that he has made since first starting cross country.

“I’ve grown stronger in my legs [since beginning to run cross country]. I’ve learned more about the sport itself,” Nick said.

Freshman Brianna Hartley looks up to senior runner Hope Whisman and seeks to be as successful as she has been during her high school cross country career.

“I look up to Hope Whisman because she was one of the first people to talk to me on the team, she’s been my friend since 6th grade, and she’s helped me with my running,” Brianna said. “She’s always been my role model.”

The team’s goal as an entire unit is to go to the state championships and succeed.

“The team goal is to win state,” sophomore Ammar Dossaji said.

To prepare for their upcoming meets, the team endures countless practices that include a variety of different workouts and running exercises.

“The day before the race we don’t do a hard workout but during the week we do two full workouts and two distance runs,” sophomore Ben Norton said.

When describing cross country, runners give varied reactions.

“I would have to say probably exhilarating because it’s exciting, yet really tiring,” sophomore Maggie O’Toole said.

Other runners find the workouts and races difficult due to the physical and mental aspects of a race.

“[Cross country is] painful, having all the injuries and mental breakdowns you get while running.” Ammar said.

Despite the difficult practices, Lindler is more confident in this team than his past teams.

“From top to bottom, it is probably the most athletic and focused teams, boys and girls, that I’ve ever coached,” Lindler said. “And that is a testimony to the great athletes and leaders that we’ve had in the past.”

Running his final season of cross country, Nick looks to make the most of his time with the team and hopes to encourage them to better themselves.

“… being a senior, I want to encourage the team as much as I can by being a leader,” Nick said.

Many male runners also look up to look up to Avery Dominick as a role model.

“I probably look up to Avery because he is the one who got me into it [cross country] and he is a great motivator,” Ben said.

Although the practices are difficult and runners may not be happy to do endure the hardships, Lindler gives the same pep talk that he always gives, which motivates the team as a whole.

“I have the same mindset that I try to instill in them, which is only the best,” Lindler said. “We keep our goals in sight and are willing to do the work.”