By Cody Easton | Reporter
One group of athletes has been working since last June to peak this week and give everything they have at the Midwestern League Cross Country district championships.
Senior runner Connor Devereux said he and his teammates on the Pirate cross country team have a purpose that drives them to get better.
“We train to meet our goal of getting 14 Pirates to state,” Devereux said. “To do that, we have to get faster, and to do that, we have to train harder every day.”
The boys varsity team consists of Devereux, junior Will Gagnon, sophomores Colby Gillett, John Hampton and Dakota Pittullo and freshman Sawyer Heckard, while the girls varsity team includes senior Jasmine Meline, juniors Shaylen Crook and Lindsay Devereux, sophomores Katelyn Rossback and Lauren Tripp and freshmen Isabel Groth and Jane Suppes.
The runners started their season early and according to head coach Doug Landrum, the sky is the limit for those who want to improve.
“We start a week after the state track meet [late May],” Landrum said. “We meet three days a week, then the runners are expected to run three days on their own or with each other.”
Most of the runners followed this schedule throughout the summer until they began practicing together nearly every day beginning, in August. According to Devereux, there is a great deal of strategy involved in preparing for competition.
“We’re in our peaking phase, which means we are going easy on work outs to get our legs and muscles rested up for the district meet on Wednesday Oct. 24,” Devereux said.
The team’s dedication goes well beyond the time spent in practice and competition, Landrum said. He said his runners must make healthier decisions to improve their athletic prowess.
“It’s living that overall lifestyle of pretty much always eating correctly, having healthy habits and training every day or six days a week,” Landrum said.
According to Meline, the runners must be committed to their diet and training.
“If you don’t have a lot of skill in running, but you have a lot of dedication, you can get better,” Meline said.
Devereux, who is currently ranked first among all runners in the Midwestern League, said there are a lot of little things runners can do to shave their time.
“Eating certain foods before the race can make quite a difference,” Devereux said.
“Stretching plays a huge factor. It can lengthen your stride which can shave off seconds from your time.”
The Pirates were set to compete in Eugene yesterday at press time, in hopes of securing a district championship or at minimum, place both teams among the top two to secure an automatic trip to the OSAA State Cross Country championships on Saturday, Nov. 3, at Lane Community College.
Meline sums up how each Pirate will approach the race they have all been preparing for.
“Cross isn’t really, ‘Can you jog three miles?’” Meline said. “It is more of, ‘Can you sprint three miles?’”