The Cross Country Experience


Nick Gross, Sports Editor

The day started off with me, my cameraman Zach Hutchison and our photographer editor Brenda Moreno getting to school at 6:45. Yes, a.m. When everyone got there, the team prayed for their safety and for a good meet.

After the team prayer, we all piled into the bus with the team. Almost everyone had their earphones in listening to different kinds of music. Coach Beckler drove the bus to Ennis and talked to Coach David Walden about the upcoming elections. We heard bits and pieces of Lil Wayne, Taylor Swift from iPods and how Donald Trump is affecting the elections from the front.

We arrived at the course at around 8:15. We exited the bus, some from the front, others taking a more direct approach jumping out the back. While the runners were walking to the team “camp,” Coach Beckler told me about a pair of boots that she has after she saw mine. The tent was set up a little away from the other school’s – down a small hill. Coach Beckler and Coach Walden began telling the team to take off their jewelry and bracelets while they were handing out each runner’s numbers.

Zach and I went off to talk to the driver of the John Deere Gator who leads the race to see if we could ride along and get some sick shots. He was in a rush because he was giving tours of the track to coaches, but he had time to breathe out the word “yes.” When we got back from setting up our shots, Coach Beckler was giving an inspirational talk.

We waited around for about two hours and talked to the team. We talked about the course, proper ways to warm up and this tool they use for their muscles called “the Stick.” They would roll this over their muscles which looked pretty weird to us. We’d never seen it before making it comical. We should get us a lint brush or something to warm us up. Na.

When the varsity girls started their race, I stayed behind while Zach and Brenda went off to film and shoot. I talked to Crayden Goh and Ryan Manns, both JV members, about what sarcastic things they would say during an interview. When Legacy runners ran by, the team would jump and shout runners’ names giving them a burst of energy. At the end of the race, junior Maria Castillo ran in ahead of the competition, setting a course record. (She’s in journalism too, by the way. And she swims. Yeah, I was impressed.) The girls took first place as a team, with Castillo taking first, Tiffany Miller taking second and Ashley Felin placing fourth.

What shocked me the most was seeing the condition of the runners after the race. People passed out, threw up or had to be carried off the course from exhaustion.

Right after the first race, I swooped in to get an interview, but was blown off for about five minutes as the parents swarmed the girls and took pictures. Finally, we got the interview. At the end of it, the girls ended by yelling “we’re going to Disney World!”

The Gator was too full for both me and Zach to hop in for the boys varsity race, so I sat it out again and continued talking to Crayden and Ryan. We saw Jeff Weisheit run past, so far ahead of the second place runner. (He won the 3A State Championship last year.) So when I heard that Jeff didn’t win, I was just as surprised as the rest of the team. We ran up the little hill to the finish line and I saw Zach walking toward us. He said that Jeff collapsed and barely finished, getting third place. The entire team swarmed us wanting to see the video that Zach was able to capture including Coach Beckler. He was carried off to the medical table while throwing up. The Gator took him to his mom’s car and she took him to the Ennis hospital. The guys finished with Jeff coming in third. Jake Weith got fourth and Kyle Perry placed sixth.

Afterward, I started talking to some of the JV runners that had an upcoming race. They mostly said that that was one of the saddest things they’d ever seen, and that they were a little scared of this course now.

The JV girls race started with the sound of the horn, and they were off. We were all still in shock from what happened to Jeff. We got a quick interview with Coach Beckler, who said she was proud of everyone so far, and expected the JV runners to do just as well.

Afterward she told us that she didn’t want us to use the video from the boys’ race, saying that it would make Jeff upset. (Jeff came into the journalism room the next day to see the video. He said he thought it looked cool and was more than willing to let us use it. He also said normally he wouldn’t help a runner if he saw that, but after what happened to him, he said he would now help another runner in a heartbeat. We finally let him out of the journalism room after 200 questions. What else could he expect from coming into the journalism room after something so dramatic happened?)

At the end of the race, the temperature began to rise while we took to the clearing near the tents to learn of who won and who is going to regionals. We all complained when we saw people pouring out ice and water. As the coach from Ennis got up to announce awards, all of Legacy sat down, partly due to exhaustion and partly trying to stay cool. The announcements were sped up toward the end because rain was heading our way.

After the awards were all announced, we went back to the bus. The team argued among themselves trying to figure out if they wanted to go to Chick-Fil-A or Chili’s. We took about a 15 minute drive, eventually pulling into a parking lot. The team didn’t know if they were going to Chili’s or Chick-fil-a, because both restaurants shared a parking lot. The team went to Chili’s and the journalism kids went to Chick-Fil-A to save some money.

We met back up with the team when we saw them heading back out to the bus. The rest of the bus ride was just us riding along enjoying their team experience. Two girls behind us were singing Taylor Swift and other random songs the entire way back. When we finally arrived home, we went our separate way from the team as they went back to the locker room, and we went to our cars.

This was the first cross country meet that I had ever been to, along with the first bus ride I had ever taken with a team. The overall experience was amazing and fun, and a very good excuse to miss school for an entire day. What amazed me the most out of the entire day was when I got home my mom asked “Why were so many people collapsing? It’s just a 5K.” And that was how I originally viewed it. I looked at cross country as a sport of just running, and that it should be an easy race, after all it’s just a 20 minute run. But they have to run over and around hills instead of just a flat run. Seeing the devotion and dedication of the team changed my view of the sport.

Regionals are set to take place on Saturday, Nov. 3 at Veteran’s Park. The team is sending Maria Castillo, Tiffany Miller, Ashley Felin, Jeff Weisheit, Jake Weith and Kyle Perry to Regionals.

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