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ConVal seniors running as a pack

  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.

There comes a point in every cross-country race when the runner asks him or herself “Why am I doing this? Why am I running?”

“But then,” ConVal senior Courtney Fisher said in an interview Monday, “you get to the finish line, and it’s like ‘Oh, let’s do it again!’”

It’s all about crossing that finish line, something Fisher and her fellow senior Cougar runners Shannon Glidden, Sydney Michalak, Rowan Wilson and Jesse Edwards know all about. And if you ask that core group of seniors, crossing the finish line is all the easier if you have a tight-knit team backing you up.

“Pushing yourself is one of the most important things to think about while you run,” Edwards said, “and we have a good team because we have those people that can push us.”

Indeed, those five seniors have banded together to push everyone on the team to be their best on the field and off. There’s Edwards, ConVal’s lone senior boy, a steady runner who paces himself to ensure he’ll have enough energy down the stretch. Fisher, the frontrunner who likes to jump out to an early lead and not relinquish it. Wilson, who joined the team last year after changing schools and hit the ground running in stride. Glidden, who picked up running to literally follow in her older brother’s footsteps (Edward Glidden was a cross-country standout for ConVal who graduated in 2010.) And there’s Michalak, a fierce competitor who is equally at home sprinting on the race course or spouting Winston Churchill quotes on the sidelines. Together, they lead by example.

“(The seniors) quickly became the nucleus of the team. They ended up being leaders, even last year,” coach Judy Heddy said. “There’s five of them and they’re all captains, so it’s just lent a really good role model to the team. The way they get their work done. They come every day ready to run, so that is really good.”

That chemistry stems from things like their team dinners, which the then-juniors initiated on their own last year and continue to host throughout their senior seasons. It’s grown from the experiences the teammates have shared over their years on the team, from when they were the underclassmen looking up to their older peers.

“The seniors seemed really intimidating at first,” Michalak said, “but then I realized that they were just really confident. So I decided that I should be confident in my running too, to show other people that they can be strong runners.”

ConVal supporters hope that confidence travels with the Cougars to the cross-country divisional meet on Saturday. The team is a bit beat up right now, with injuries hampering several of the runners, but Heddy thinks her team could put up a fight and make a bid for the Meet of Champions.

“I’m not as confident as I would have been if we hadn’t had those injuries,” Heddy said, “but anything can happen on race day. If some of them could dig deep and maybe find something, that would be really good.”

No matter what happens Saturday, ConVal’s senior runners will leave a mantra that the crop of underclassmen would do well to embrace.

“When you run, never look back,” Edwards said. “That should have been my senior quote!”

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