To Emporia and Beyond!
The clouds danced steadily across the sky with trepidation; intimidating possible rain fall. But with three inches of puddles and streams scattered heftily throughout the course, our Chesty Lions shook away the unease with composure and determination. The squads walked the course and plotted out points of interest that would help them in any way possible when it came race time. With the clouds came cooler temperatures and nonexistent humidity; optimal conditions for a runner. As the time drew near, the junior varsity harriers made the solemn 200m walk to the starting line.
Both the boys and girls junior varsity teams crushed the course like it was the flattest, driest course around. Nearly everyone came away with a personal record and put some of the varsity members in the hot seat. It was apparent that today was not about gaining position in crummy conditions, but rather it was about going out and shooting for a fast time as if the course was fresh and rain hadn't fallen all week. And with this new direction, the lions did just that.
The varsity girls were primed and ready as they took their final run-outs off the line. The competition looked stacked as 70 athletes toed that unforgiving, faded starting line. "Runner's take your marks!" All of the seasoned gazelles took the two steps forward and crouched in anticipation. BANG! Smoke filled the air as the ground ripped under the friction of spiked shoes catapulting from their positions. Down the 200m hill, and the runners were fully engaged. Maiki, Layne, Evann, Maddie, and Sophie rounded out the top-5 as they barreled over the hills and through the bottomless spills that had now partially dried. Coach Brensing was moving from point to point, and could be heard from across the course. Coach Beckerman and I found as many opportunities to hoop and holler as the ladies worked their way over the 3.1 mile terrain. "Pump your arms!" "Quick feet!" "A little more! And get around this group!" And the exhausted beasts humored our requests. Needless to say, pushing the envelope helped them to fast times and exciting results.
Everyone set season best times and were astonished at their current fitness level. While some of that may have had to do with the 64° temperature, we reassured them that those grueling summer miles are coming into play. Some of them ran times that were comparable to where they finished the season last year! But that was the Lady Lions; now the focus shifted to the boys as they laced their devices of speed and double-checked their bib numbers.
Jack, Ruben, Nicholai, Jackson, and Sam found themselves as the top-5 and crucial to the team scoring component of the meet. Getting their run-outs in, generating enthusiasm and focus in the team huddle, and putting in a last bit of stretching, the boys positioned their spikes in the divots left from the history of runners past. The boys remained attentive as the starter megaphoned his instructions to the masses. Some deep inhales and shaking out of the shoulders helped to keep the fear at bay. But then the gun raised to the heavens. BANG! Quickly, Jack and Ruben separated themselves from the others and gained valuable positioning. The lead group came through the mile in around 5:01 with our Chesty Lions in tow. As the race progressed, Nicholai found himself steadily meandering his way to the forefront; finding gaps and areas where he could catch the group ahead. It was exciting to see the heart that these guys put forth as they -- like the ladies prior -- pushed their envelope of comfort. With 400m to go, Jack had primed himself for a remarkable finish. Continually pushing, Jack fought for 13th overall, a personal record, and the only freshman in the top-20. Ruben fell off of where he was in the latter part of the race, but he held on for 26th. The rest of the valiant lions flew home with their legs screaming of lactic acid; all setting personal records.
While the teams may not have placed favorably, the effort from every single athlete from varsity to c-team made the meet captivating nonetheless. We the coaches saw the potential of this team before the summer started and we believe that the runners are starting to see that potential as well. All that we can do is keep working hard day in and day out and strive towards a common goal. This was such an emotional meet that it has us excited for Baldwin next weekend! We will be running our full varsity teams: women's and men's. It's time for sparks to fly. Stay tuned . . .