Men’s junior high cross country team starts strong

By Mackenzie Michael

So far the junior high men’s cross country team has kicked the season off to an amazing start by placing first at the Rich Engel meet and placing second in the Des Moines Dowling meet at Marshalltown for their first two meets.

“Day one has started off amazing,” said Kara Hulse, one of the seventh and eighth grade men’s cross country coaches alongside with coach Dan Reid. “The eighth graders lead the team with their work ethic. We practice every day after school and have optional practices on Saturdays when we’re not in a meet. This group just came with a passion for running since day one. They have been encouraging their teammates and making leaps and strides in getting better every day as individuals and as a team.”

For the men’s seventh and eighth grade teams, they mixed everyone that goes out into one big team. “We have a combined number of 50 Holmes and Peet athletes running this season. Due to the fact we combine teams, it seems as if it might be hard for them to bond; however, since day one the eighth graders have been leaders and started a daily tradition. These athletes make me excited to coach them each day,” Hulse said. “I coach cross country because this sport is special and unlike any other sport that I have coached. Cross country is a sport where you and your athletes become a family. This shows at our home meet as former runners always come back to cheer for the current Tigers.”

Hulse attributed the strong results at the meets so far to the amount of work each of the runners have put in at practice. “Our coaches really push us hard,” Michael Goodenbour, one of the eighth grade cross country team members, said. “They make us do that one extra hill or that one extra mile we didn’t think we could do, especially since cross country is such a mental sport. Our team bond also helps in a very positive way. We always support one another and pick each other up when we’re having a bad day. I look forward to cross country every day because I enjoy just for the fun of it and competitively.”

The boys have six more meets until their state meet, which is on Oct. 15. So far the season has gone well for them, but to win the state meet they’re going to have some pretty hard work ahead of them, which they are very capable of accomplishing.

Joel Burris, an eighth grade runner from Peet, said, “We will and are prepared for the state meet because we have a really good seventh and eighth grade team as a whole. Then we have our top five runners on top of that. Our coaches also help us push ourselves and each other, motivating us to improve and try our best at every meet and practice. It’s fun because you meet and make so many new friends and hang out together after meets.”

Hulse also agreed that winning State is within their reach. “In order to place well at State we are going to have to work more as a team and push each other on the course by running together and working hard for the next month. We will work on pack running during the week when we have hard workouts such as interval training, hills and strategizing. Strategy helps the runner know when to surge, have body checks and have positive affirmation that they are working hard. Our brain likes to doubt our body, and we are training our body to push through those doubts.”

Their next meet is Saturday, Sept. 24 in Independence at 10:35 a.m.

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