As the gun sounds and hundreds of athletes bolt from the start, Marian runners pack together and take on the course as a team. At Marian, cross country means more than an individual time. Teammates share a competitive bond when they push through workouts together and enjoy the family-like atmosphere of the team as whole.
In comparison to last season, this year’s team has added to its ranks. “Last year, we had about 44 runners out, but this year we are up to 64,” said Varsity Cross Country Coach Roger Wright. While only seven can compete at the varsity level, Wright says quite a few challengers are battling for top spots. “Varsity changes from meet to meet, and every week you have to earn your spot. Right now, I would say we have 13 battling for the top team.”
However, no matter the combination of runners, the cross country team has shown strength. “Even though we had people gone for college visits and trips over Labor Day, we competed well,” Wright said. “We were fourth at the Concordia meet in Seward and second in the Bellevue West 9/10 meet. As the season goes on, I am excited to see how well we can do with the team at full strength.”
All seven state runners from last year returned for this season. When the team competed at state last year, it was projected to finish 12th, but came out ninth. Right now, Marian is ranked seventh in the state, and Wright has high hopes for the end of the season. “Seventh is a good place to be. We can hunt down the top teams without having a target on our back.
With the team continuing to work as hard as it has been, we will be in the running for state this year.”
The team represents a balanced amount of runners from all classes. Friends encourage their friends to run, and sisters encourage their sisters. “I really wish I would’ve started running sooner!” senior Anna Nulty said. “People would always say how fun it was to run with your friends. [This year] I’ve gotten to know more about my classmates, and I always feel satisfied after I finish running a race or at practice.”
State team runners from last year, sophomores Maria Kleinsmith and Kira Bravo, both mentioned that the team plays a huge role in their workouts and competitions. “I really love my team! They make me want to work harder each day, and push me to be better,” Kleinsmith said.
“The team makes the meets and workouts so much easier,” Bravo said. “Without them I wouldn’t be able to finish.”
This year’s team does sport some sister duos. However, to Wright, family reaches wider than being related. “In cross country you come to appreciate everyone because you go through the same workouts together. On this team, we have sisters, but to me the whole team is a family.”