After a week of stellar practices and riding that Cloud 9 carried over from last week's Emporia Invitational, our Chesty Lions were primed for another captivating meet. This time, cross-town rivals Free State were in attendance ready to put our teams to the test. But there was one big obstacle that we could not quite combat successfully: the electromagnetic radiation that, that glorious orb of hydrogen and helium spits off to leave us gulping gallons of dihydrogen monoxide. The heat! Most teams seemed to manage the rising temperatures, but for some reason we were unable to shake the effects -- even with running our water supply dry.
Our varsity squads found themselves running the third and fourth races of the day where the temperatures had already peaked in the 80s and the sun was bombarding from straight overhead. But the squads fought hard, regardless. The Lady Lions kept the atmosphere light as the time drew closer for them to take to the battlefield. Last second swigs of water and some additional drenching of the wrists and neck kept the ladies' bodies cool. The starter gave those last minute instructions before raising the gun and firing off to the clear sky above.
With a mad dash our ladies were off in the hunt. The first mile had everyone in good positioning, but that is when the heat started to nip away at runners from all teams. Many slowed. Many excelled. Maiki fought hard to continually catch those in front of her as she went into the last mile. Sophie was in hot pursuit after Maiki with Leslie not too far behind. Freshman, Maddie Dewitt broke out of her shell and hung tight with Leslie and Evann as they entered the final 800m. Unfortunately, the last mile and the taxing heat assault from above was slightly overwhelming for our gals. While they did finish a very respectable back-to-back-to-back with great pack running, they faded slightly and finished towards the middle of the racing order rather than the upper portion. We the coaches saw some very great race-time decisions and efforts all across the board and can only hope that the ladies keep their heads high and look to make some noise next weekend at Rim Rock!
The guys' varsity team featured our top-3 running together for the first time: Jack, Ruben, and Cole; a dynamic trio that will undoubtedly be in the mix of things come late-October. However, the sun was unrelenting and again served as a hindrance to our runners. (Now, I should point out that our runners put in a lot of quality work over the week, so the chances of their legs being zapped and heavy was quite possible in addition to the heat). The guys kept the heat at bay as much as they could by staying in the shade until necessary to leave. Completing their warm-up routine and team huddle, the boys drew their focus to the race laid out before them. The freshly cut grass displaying an array of pits and torn-out areas gave credence to our weary travelers that once that gun yelps it's call of judgement, it is just them and the grueling pain to follow.
The starter raised his canon and fired off a calming round of powder. And just like that, zoom our Chesty Lions catapulted from their starting positions and into the thick of the masses. Nerves and adrenaline played a crucial role in our guys getting good position early. However, the sun showed little forbearance in emitting it's strangling warmth unto the runners. And after the first mile -- which was ran honestly -- most of the fellas found complacency and stuck to the area they were calling home. Jack made a push to move up throughout the race, but sickness sidelined him last week and the battle back from that sickness was hard enough that he never looked like he hit his stride. Ruben and Cole were in hot pursuit of Jack but were fading going into the last mile, unfortunately.
Avery, Aaron, and Jackson fought hard together, and while their efforts were admirable, their positioning in the race was not conducive to a low team score. The team scrapped for everything they had, and it did not go unnoticed. At the end of the day, it was the sun and the flatulence that it threw our way that won. Other teams were more well-adapted to the heat and that is something that we will need to work to overcome. Properly hydrating throughout the week, drinking Gatorade after workouts, and knowing when to leave the cooler, shaded areas will be vital to our success. "Don't be in the sun when you don't have to be" is something that was hammered home through my years of running. We will be better prepared next week seeing as Rim Rock has a history of being an excruciatingly hot day with little to no sympathy from the sun. In all, this week taught us a lot, and we are excited to see how the runners adapt and continue to improve over the coming weeks!
Stay tuned . . .