Cross Country Runs for the Win

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By Matthew Jacobson- Terrier Times Staff- VINTON Va.

As the William Byrd High School’s Cross Country team started another season, their hopes, dreams, and goals were simply to run, fight, and win.

The boys cross country team are defending their four-year streak of winning the district championship titles. The girls cross country team are also looking to find success as a team this season.

For the cross country runners the success begins with strong practices.

“We do hill work for strength and endurance,” said cross country coach Gene Riggs. “We always stretch, do ab work, and weight room for training as well.”

Practice consists of running. They use many different methods for training. Both boys and girls run 800-meter, 1000-meter, and one-mile repeat runs. This is followed by 30-50 minute run for speed.

 “The part of practice that the kids dread the most is running hills at Parkway Wesleyan Church and running the trails at Lynn Haven Baptist Church,” said cross country coach, Eric Royal.

The most interesting thing about Royal is his whistle. Coach Riggs said that runners could hear the whistle from one end of Stonebridge Park to the other.

During meets, coaches are the announcers of the sport. Coaches call out times for pacing and run all over the course to give encouragement. Royal’s whistle helps with this since it is so unique and loud.

Lord Botetourt is WBHS’ biggest rival in cross country.

“There are always rivals in sports because somebody wants to be the champion or take away the champion’s spot as leader,” Riggs said.

On the other hand, Royal believes that the rivalry exists due to some good natured provocation.

“We raise the Clemson Paw flag during the meet,” Royal said. “The head coach at LB graduated from Clemson so he does not like that we use Clemson’s flag.”

Every meet is a 5 kilometers race, but every course is not, so runners have to run multiple laps around varied courses.

While Cross Country is fun and exciting, a few of the runners have to balance it with other sports. Some cross country members play more than one sport, freshman Ana Martha Lopez, freshman Reed Cooper, and sophomore Darbie McPhail play multiple sports. Lopez plays basketball and travel soccer while running cross country for WBHS. Cooper plays baseball and McPhail plays softball.

Lopez manages her sports by staying focused on one sport at a time. She spends most of her day either doing sports or doing homework. Both Lopez and McPhail think that it is sometimes hard to manage between sports. Lopez has sacrifices that she makes to keep doing what she does. Not having free time or time to hang out with friends is one of her many sacrifices. 

“I don’t get to go out much,” McPhail said.

 Every person is improving on the WBHS Cross Country.

“The guys are all competitive and have a good depth,” Royal said “The girls freshmen runners are really improving to help out the team.”

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