Cross Country Teams Off to a Strong Start

After three strong performances so far this season, no one can stop the boys’ cross country team. They have been training all summer and the hard work is paying off. Out of the three meets they have raced in, they have finished in the top two in all of them and placed first twice. 

“We came in under the radar and have been performing really well. By winning two meets and only losing to a larger school in Ladue High school we have got off to a good start,” recalled Head Coach Nile Heefner.

In addition, the girls’ cross country team has been working hard, as well. However, so far, the girls have been unable to score as a team because the coaches have only put out four runners in the varsity race. This is because the team has a total of eight runners, many of whom are partially injured or new to cross country. Nevertheless, the team has quite a few talented runners and a bright future this season. 

For instance, a strong runner on the team, sophomore Kharis Perona explained, “The team definitely has some potential this year. The first few meets went pretty well, but recently we’ve been struggling because most of us are injured. The injuries haven’t been serious, but they have caused most of us to not finish the workouts at practice, so we aren’t performing as well at the meets.” 

At the Ladue-Clayton Invitational, the second meet of the season, the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams dominated the competition in their second meet of the season. It was the first time the runners raced for the high school regulatory distance of 5 kilometers (or 3.1 miles). With a boiling, humid temperature of 91 degrees, it was a grueling sufferfest meant for only the toughest runners to thrive. On the girls’ side, the highlight of the race was an amazing first place finish from Ava Hollmann. No one could keep pace with her as she finished 40 seconds ahead of every other runner with a time of 21:19.78. 

“It was really hot, with no clouds, and not much shade. It was probably the worst weather conditions that I have ever raced in, and that is saying a lot because, as a senior, I have run a lot of races. There is nothing like brutal, still heat to sap energy out of you. Before the race, Coach Meyer encouraged me to be more daring and take the lead by going out faster in the beginning, but I think you unlock so much more potential when there are other runners around you to push you to run faster, although, overall, I am happy with the win,” said Hollmann as she reflected on the race. 

On the boys’ side, junior Colin Ring led the team, finishing in sixth place with a time of 18:17.86. Also, with the rest of the top five runners finishing in the top 25, the team finished in second place only behind Ladue High School, which is a class 4 school while Westminster is only in class 3. The team was able to beat out Clayton High School’s team who won districts last year while the boys finished in 2nd place.

“We went out there and competed. No one on any team ran anywhere near their fastest time because it was hilly and hot. However, I’m so proud of our guys for winning the mental game and finishing the race while placing 2nd as a team and beating our district rival Clayton in the process,” Ring said, as he summarized the results of the meet.

Later, the runners competed well the Lutheran North Invitational for the third meet of the season. The boys’ team ran hard through the muggy and humid weather and was able to once again bring a first place trophy back to Westminster. 

Junior Hunter Freiner, a key runner on the boys team, said, “Spanish Lake is a very fast course, and because of this it is a fun course to run at because of the fast times. Despite the hot weather, our team ran well. We placed first as a team, beating out Clayton, who are our rivals in class 3.”

For the girls team, Hollmann once again led the race, finishing second. Incredibly, she ran over a minute faster than the previous week finishing with a time of 20:11.60. However, due to struggling with lots of injuries, the girls’ team was generally disappointed in how the meet went. 

When asked on the race, Kharis Perona reflected, “Overall Spanish Lake didn’t go as well as we hoped. Ava Hollmann ran amazing as always, but three of us couldn’t run, and four of us were in a lot of pain while we ran, and didn’t run as well as we hoped. There’s still some time in the season, and I’m hopeful that we can finish the season strong. We have some great coaches and captains on the team and overall a strong work ethic, so if we can just get past some injuries, hopefully we’ll have a chance of making it to state.”

Despite the harsh weather conditions throughout the past couple weeks, the boys and girls gave their best effort and have gotten off to a strong start. While it has not been perfect, the results so far point to the raw potential of both teams for districts and state later this season. After all, as the season progresses, the weather will start getting cooler, and the runners will keep getting faster, but for now, the runners are on track (I mean cross country) for success.