Girls cross country starts off strong


Varun Gullapalli

Girls Cross Country is getting ready for their meet against Wauconda.

A normal day starts with a check to make sure everyone on the team has no symptoms and has not been in contact with anyone who has had the virus. Coach Anthony DeStephano goes through instructions and directs the team as to what to expect for the rest of the practice. Sometimes this means a road run, which is simply a long run on the streets next to the road. Some days the team completes drills and hill workouts to incorporate resistance while other days are solely dedicated to either speed or endurance. 

“It all depends on what we need to get done,” said Coach DeStephano.

The team’s practice regimen has allowed the team to improve with many runners breaking their personal records for this reason. Along with the improved speed, runners have learned to overcome the obstacles they face and to adapt to their environment.

“Over the last few weeks we’ve had several different weather scenarios,” said Coach DeStephano. “Our first meet against Lakes was really hot, but they were troopers and everyone made it through. Our next meet we had was Round Lake which was pouring rain the entire time. They improved every race, whether it’s time or executing the plan of being stronger longer and being able to have a good finish at the end.”

The girls cross country team has a record of 3-3, and they are still determined to make the top three in the conference. Top runners Nicole Brown and Olivia Sanborn lead the team with their personal records of 20:55 and 21:25 respectively. Even though the sport seems as if it is about running and only that, the team said that team spirit is an important part of the sport as well.

“We all look up to each other and push ourselves to get better,” said sophomore Nicole Brown. “I’m just happy that I do this sport, and it’s still able to go on.  Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself and work to get better.”

The team looks out for each other. They constantly motivate one another and help each other improve. Running together, hanging out together, and being there for each other have made the team’s bond so strong that the team appears to be like a family.

“I already am pretty close with most of the team,” said senior Olivia Sanborn. “ I look up to all of my varsity girl teammates. They all have been working super-hard this season and they’ve all been super motivating to me, and I think that that’s kind of helped us get better as a team just because we’re all always trying to motivate each other. Just being together made it so much better.”

The renewed team spirit is one of the few highlights of the season.  According to Coach DeStephano, athletes have been stepping up, taking leadership roles, and leading by example. But to him and some of the girls on the team, simply having a season is a highlight.

“It’s felt a little bit weird,” Sandborn said. “We have to wear masks, thankfully not when we’re just doing our normal run, but after I run when we’re stretching and stuff we have to wear them which I mean it kind of sucks because we’re already super out of breath and sweaty. But as long as we’re still having practice, I’m happy.”

Although COVID-19 has changed many aspects of the season, the core of the sport has not changed. Cross country is still about teamwork, adapting, endurance, and running. The safety precautions make it seem a little different but are necessary to ensure the safety of the team.

“It’s a little overwhelming with COVID-19 because you don’t really know what to expect,” Brown said. ”We have to wear masks when we get there and when we’re not running, which is just different. And they take our temperature and ask us questions. I mean I get why we have to do it.”

Even though the weather and the pandemic provide obstacles for the team, persisting through them is the essence of the sport. Defying obstacles, perseverance and always striving to improve are among the key fundamentals of the sport.

“The whole point of cross country is to be in peak physical shape and be able to have that endurance and speed and will to push through the pain so you can keep going and try to be first or run faster than you did last time,” DeStephano said. “We’re all about improving, and it takes effort from all aspects, mental and physical.