Cross Country teams kicks off season with support from friends and family

August 25, 2016

With their first meet roughly two weeks away, the boys and girls cross country teams spent this past Saturday, Aug. 20, hosting a Run-A-Thon for families and friends of the cross country community. The second annual event was created not only to fundraise, but also to allow the runners and their families to meet one another and create a positive environment for the season.

“There were a lot of benefits from parents getting a chance to meet one another, to kids getting to ‘show off’ all the hard work they’ve put in over the summer, and then to fundraise.” said boys head coach Andrew Easton. “Why not do something where you can make an event out of it?”

The week prior to the event, runners from both the girls and boys teams signed up to participate, and gathered pledges from various members of the Westside community. Easton and girls head coach Theresa Gosnell viewed this event as a way to raise funds without focusing on material sales. Pledged mile and time amounts were used more as a guide than a strict rule due to Easton and Gosnell wanting the focus to be on maintaining a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Even with no monetary goal set prior to the event, an increase in funds is necessary for both the girls team, and what Easton believes is the largest boys team in Westside’s history.

“As our program expands, it’s essential to be able to continue to provide the same experiences and nice incentives for guys who go out and work so hard.” Easton said.  “We’re grateful to the parents and everyone who supports our program for doing that.”

With a total of 29 participants and over fifteen hundred dollars raised, runners like sophomore Madison Jagels are motivated to improve with the beginning of the season.

“This year we are definitely focusing on becoming [more of] a whole as a team,” Jagels said. “This year people will be more motivating, so I think it will help everyone out as a team. When you’re closer it’s easier and more motivating to run.”

Last year, attention was set on improving workouts for the program. This year both teams want to emphasize a stronger team environment with a focus on character and leadership. With both of these motives working to improve runners’ physical and mental strength, state is seen as an attainable goal by both runners and coaches.

“There’s never been a time in Westside’s history where the boys team has gone [to state] four years in a row.” Easton said. “ We have an opportunity then to do something that’s never been done before, and the senior class is really motivated to say that they were a part of all of that.”

Senior Jim Halgren, runner of three years, agrees.

“I really feel like that’s a thing for us to be able to do and it shows how much the team has grown in the past four years.” Halgren said. “The strength of coach Easton, what he’s been able to do for the team.”

Both teams are ready and excited for for their first meet on Thursday, Sept. 1 in Seward, where they hope to see support from both friends and family as they kickoff their season.

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