Girls cross country expects a strong start to the fall season after a summer of productivity and an increase in roster size.
Throughout the summer, group runs were led by senior captains: Alison Reinhoffer, Olivia Holbrook, Claire Stowe and Morgan Florsheim, with the goal of training for the start of the fall season on August 18 while also forming supportive relationships.
“Summer running is captain-led,” said Sarah Kopplin, head coach. “Our four captains did a really good job of leading these runs, and on average we had over 20 girls a day here.”
The team has increased in size by over twenty people this year, from 41 girls the previous season, to 63 girls currently– a record amount of participants, according to Kopplin.
“We have 23 freshman [on the team so far], which is by far the most we’ve ever had. There’s a lot of positivity, with a lot of people returning from last year. People are excited to see each other again,” Kopplin said.
Holbrook believes that the high number of participants also contributes to the positivity when it comes to the team dynamic.
“The team dynamic is amazing. It is incredible that even with 63 girls we can all be the best of friends. Each runner is fully invested in the team and that is something truly special,” Holbrook said.
Kopplin also has positive hopes for the state cross country race this year, as only four senior runners graduated last year, and all seven state runners from the previous year have remained on the team.
“We’re going to have a lot of very strong people, and we got third in state last year,” Reinhoffer said. “We want to win state, and this is the year to do it.”
“We want to work hard, and encourage everyone to work hard, every single day,” said Meghan Curtis, senior.
“We’re really using [state] as a motivator. It gets us through abs and hurdles and things,” Curtis said. “We’ve got high hopes, and with good reason.”
Kopplin also mentioned some exciting changes concerning the coaching staff this year.
“My assistant coach Nick Szczech has been a volunteer coach with us in the past. [This year] the school found the funds to be able to pay him. To be able to offer him a paid position is great,” Kopplin said.
Additionally, new assistant coach Kenzie Vicker will be volunteering with the team this year.
However, Kopplin also says that running itself goes beyond just the physical aspects many people may think of when they think of it. There are many things the team talks about concerning positive body image, confidence, and connection with the team. These things, Kopplin says, are beneficial for both the runner and the team as a whole, and are key in creating a supportive atmosphere.
“We talk a lot about goals and body image, things beyond just running,” Kopplin said. “We answer the question, ‘why do you run?’ It’s a story that’s consistently changing from the time you’re a freshman to when you’re a senior. There are a lot of aspects to running…you can connect with nature, connect with your body; there are a lot of reasons.”
by Celeste Carroll