Cross Country States: A Season of Progression

Cross Country States: A Season of Progression

On November 5, the Pine Crest cross country team raced in Tallahassee for their most significant race of the year, the state championship. After running the Pre-State Invitational just a month prior, the team prepared themselves to run at Apalachee Regional Park for the last time in the 2022 season.

In anticipation of the State Championships, Cross Country Coach Paul Baur had a game plan to ensure a continuation of the great results seen throughout the season.

“I would say rest was the most important thing, but also continuing to maintain our base. Our intensity stayed where it was but we backed off our volume on our intensity stuff just really to help our legs rest and stay fresh.”

The team also incorporated some fun activities in their preparation for the State Championship to contribute to team bonding. Paw Print spoke to Brooke Hooper ’24 about her experience. “The day before the race we took a trip to Wakulla springs. It was so much fun to jump in the cold water. It was a good experience for us to face our fears for the race. We also decorated ribbons to wear in our hair for the race. It was a great team bonding activity and a fun way to get hyped for States.”

On the morning of November 5, the season’s work was rewarded with great results. The girls team placed sixth out of 32 teams, led by Hooper who placed eighth among the field of 230 runners. This was a remarkable improvement from last year, where the girls team placed 14th.

The boys team placed 21st out of 32 teams, with senior Jack Gabrielle ’23 leading them, finishing in 46th place out of 232 runners. Unlike other varsity teams, three out of the seven members of the Pine Crest Boys Cross Country team are middle schoolers, making them a young team with years to learn and progress.

“The season in its longevity is foreign to some of the team, and thanks to the disruption that COVID provided, it felt odd running that many meets, even though that is the norm,” says Gabrielle. “I think most of the guys have now seen what it’s like to race on the same course multiple times, especially as high quality as the one in Tallahassee. That experience is great for dissecting races into parts that went well or not, and how to adjust for the next time.”

Gabrielle has high hopes for the future success of the boys team, telling Paw Print, “For a varsity team to be half middle schoolers is truly unheard of, and the younger talent is more than capable of doing great things in the future. As long as they trust their training and keep working together as they have been doing. In all honesty, the sky is the limit.”

For the girls team, Coach Baur emphasized the progression from last year and the exceptional performance this season, being both District and Regional Champions.

“This year, over the course of the season, the girls were very successful, winning a lot of meets, and really maturing and seeing and believing how good of a team they were. They carried that on to the state meet and looking forward, keeping that same excitement of not just winning but being disciplined and working hard, they’ll have a great track season.”

The 2022 Cross Country season was one of consistency, learning, and above all progression. The next few years will be filled with opportunity for the team as 5 out of the 14 varsity runners across the Boys and Girls teams are in middle school.