The cross country team switched things up for the 2018 fall season by welcoming the middle school cross country team every day at practices. 

The high school cross country coaches collaborate with the middle school coaches to bring both teams together for practices every day. In hopes of keeping young kids passionate about the sport and prepare them for higher level workouts, the middle school team joins the high schoolers in their workouts. 

“We wanted to make the practices a little tougher for them so they knew they could handle harder workouts,” said Coach Steve Markee. “We’ve had a lot of kids not go out for the sport their freshman year because they were afraid it would be too hard. We just wanted to have them realize that they could do it.”

The coaches worked hard to push the younger kids to their full potentials.

“We raised the intensity of their practices by having them doing the same things as the High Schoolers, just with not as many reps,” said Coach Paul Rykken. “We would encourage some kids to run up, but a lot of it was just them choosing to jump in and try.”

Coach Rykken and Coach Markee have high hopes for the future high school cross country teams. 

“A few years ago, we did not have enough girls to score. The hope is that we will gain greater depth and more involvement,” said Coach Rykken.

The coaches were excited about the new addition, though, some of the high schoolers had different opinions. 

“At some times, I felt as if they were holding us back at practice,” said junior John Kramer. “It just felt like every day didn’t go as fast or smooth as it should have or usually does.”

Some of the older runners weren’t as excited about the idea of having the middle schoolers practice with them, but they tried to keep a positive attitude. 

“I think that it would’ve made more sense to only have the 8th graders practice with us,” said Kramer. “Having the entire middle school team with us just seemed too overwhelming.”

On the other hand, some of the runners thought it was a great opportunity and an even better change. 

“I think it was a good chance for them to earn respect going into high school,” said junior Zachiah Gjerseth. “It was fun to watch them push themselves and get better every day.”

 

Most of them agree that it would have helped them with the transition from middle school to migh school cross country if they would’ve ran with them in 8th grade.

“It was a really tough transition from middle to high school cross country with the longer distances and more intensity at practice,” said Gjerseth, “but I think it would’ve made it easier for everyone if they would’ve joined the high school practices just to find out what it was really like and get a feel of everything. It can really boost your confidence.”