Cross country evolves into intense training to prepare for state

The indecisive AIA created difficulty for fall sports to practice and compete during their actual season because of COVID spikes; however, coaches Jeff Gurecki and Bryan Idleman have “been pushing their players this season all Summer long,” claimed Gurecki .

Practices have been continuing through Summer and during the beginnings of the school year. For cross country athletes, the mornings start early with a 4:30 A.M. practice four days a week. Preparing for the monthly meets is vigorous: “The meets are very stressful,” said senior Taylor Lovell. 

The first meet is on Sept. 4th for the Chandler Invite, to create aggressive competitors, coach Idleman and Gurecki have been putting their kids in weight training, working out their legs “which we haven’t done before” said Gurecki. To compete with the amazing season both the girls and boys had last year, Gurecki has been changing the pace during training.

Senior Matt Camp for the boys team has been striving for number one in the state after being the fourth placeholder last year. “I think that by pushing myself I can really earn the first place title.” Gurecki believes Camp can achieve his goal this year.

Attempting to change the route the cross country kids go for training, Gurecki believes that “the kids have been working harder than they have in the past.” and that their “dedication to running this summer” is really going to seal the deal with this year’s season. 

The top players are often watched and judged such as Lovell and Camp. Cross country evaluates the top five scores of a race and averages it out for their score, Lovell and Camp are very promising in the coachs’ eyes. “Matt Camp is kind of our stand out star on the guys side.” Said Gurecki.

With the new season, comes new students. “Having newcomers makes our season change drastically,” said Gurecki. In the past, cross country has not relied heavily on freshmen, but this year training them to fill senior positions on varsity is crucial. “My favorite part of cross country has to be being with the team,” said Lovell. New additions create different experiences each year, last season students – who have never ran cross country – tried out for varsity and were invited to the varsity races. The team evolves and grows creating a changing environment that benefits the players. 

Cross country is a no cut sport; however, the intense competition and training has kept the players attentive and focused on running. Daily practice consists of a three mile run then lifting after. The focus this year is to build stronger players and change aspects about the cross country routine that needed fixing. 

Determined to make state and win the first place title, Gurecki and Idleman have figured out the practices and varsity players bettering their chances. The team is important in cross country and each player relies on the next, not only do the coaches want to strengthen the athletes themselves but the team as a whole. The new additions that Idleman and Gurecki made with the purpose to create unity within the players. Thus, “working out together,” said Gurecki and “bonding at meets is the most important part about cross country,” said Lovell.