Cross Country


Coach Zimny

Jr. High cross country runners ready for the start of the race.

Most people think of cross county as a boring sport, running for no reason. But as a cross country member, I can definitely say that there is more to the sport than just running. It is really a team sport, which most people don’t know, and everyone bonds as a team, possibly even more so than in some more popular sports. The motto for cross country is “Changing the Culture,” and it really has changed recently.

Coach Zimny
Mike Shurson leads Pat Mullin and Jelani Waynewood into the finish.

Junior high cross country runners were asked why they joined the team and how it has changed them. Eighth grader Joseph Flachman said, “Cross country has helped me learn to work harder and to be a better person.”  Joseph says he joined “because of Walker.” I think this is a pretty good reason to join a team because Walker Niebergall brings spirit to the team.  Some people join the team to train for other sports, which all the coaches understand and support. Eighth grader Michael Shurson said, “I needed to get in shape,” and cross country is a great way to achieve that. All the runners on the junior high team have improved this year, and all those interviewed said that they felt accepted into the team.

Coach Zimny
Runner Mathew Jimenez leads the rest of the runners to the finish in Waverley, Iowa.

The team aspect of cross country isn’t as well understood by the general public. We always run as a group and everyone pushes one another to be the best that they can be. If one runner isn’t doing great, everyone else makes sure they’re doing alright and then helps them to improve. I have witnessed other people doing this many times, not only for our team, but also for other team’s runners.  Some runners said they joined cross country not only to get fit, but also to make friends. In races, runners not only get a personal time, but also to get a team score. Depending on the race, the top five runners might score for the team, or the top seven could score. During races, everyone pushes as hard as possible and makes sure everyone else pushes hard too.

Coach Zimny
Will Peterson, Joseph Flachman, and Tomas Sauer run hard.

This season has gone very well for the junior high. There has been much improvement all around. Not only have runners improved times, but also mental toughness and strength. In cross country training consists of more than just running; there is also core strengthening. Core is doing many abdominal exercises with a team captain who leads the work. The amount and type of work varies with the captain, but all the captains push very hard and have high expectations. The coaches also have very high expectations, and so far, it seems that we’ve met them. One of our coaches, Coach Snell, says that we are “the most hardworking junior high group I’ve worked with in a long time, and you all have done a great job.” Coach Zimny puts it a little simpler by describing our work as “solid.”

Cross country is a really fun sport, and it is really changing the culture. It brings people together, and it has been a great experience this year for all participants.