Green cross country runners are finding success in a team mentality.
Cross country can be misleadingly thought of as an individual sport. Many runners know running as a pack and focusing on the team is what truly makes a cross country program successful.
“We are all in it together and it is nice knowing that it isn't just individual based,” senior Green High runner Keith Genetin said. “We have developed into our own family and I think it has shown through our races.”
Green boys varsity cross country team has remarkably shown success this fall. Winning the Sandy Valley Invitational Sept. 21, he boys displayed what true team racing looks like.
Toeing the line together and racing through the muddy fields, all seven varsity runners fought through the dreary weather and were all able to place within the top 25 spots.
“It was nice to see them run for places,” head coach Tim Tober said. “I told them to take time out of the equation and I told them where I wanted them to be and they knew the whole race where they needed to be.”
Along with Tober, Genetin and others were pleased with their performances.
“We had confidence going into the race,” Genetin said. “We did our little cheer and called each other 'brothas' and really felt confident. We had a plan to run together and then the last half of the race go from there. That plan worked for us and we were fortunate enough to take first.”
As the days get shorter and the weather becomes brisk, it can only mean that postseason competition is right around the corner.
The Bulldogs hope to race themselves out of districts Oct. 19 and qualify for the regional meet that will be held at Boardman High School Oct. 26.
“We have an incredibly competitive district,” Tober said. “Not just the top four teams but a total of six teams deep and other individual runners from other schools. My expectations are to have three of our runners in those top 16 qualifying spots. If we can put three in the top 16, our team is in a much better spot advancing to regionals.”
Last year, the Bulldogs were unable to advance out of districts after placing a 12th.
This year, the team is focused on showing their efforts when it counts the most.
“The guys really responded much better this year to the training,” Tober said. “It seems that they are putting it into action in the meets and they are really working as a group in practice.”
Genetin also shared his thoughts on the team's goals for districts.
“This year is going to be even tougher advancing out of districts,” Genetin said. “There are three if not four teams in the top ten in the state in our district. We have one of the hardest districts to get out of but that is the goal. We all want to advance and we are all racing to be a part of that.”
RACING FOR VARSITY
As the Bulldogs focus on districts, the question lies who exactly will be the top seven varsity runners at the end of the season.
Having ten runners on the edge of varsity and having only a few spots open, the boys are determined as ever to snatch a shot at varsity.
Senior runner Chandler Morgan is one of the many runners fighting for that varsity spot.
“There is such a battle for varsity this year,” Morgan said. “It can be any given day who is varsity and it just depends on that race. Everyone's fighting for that spot on varsity and no one is giving up.”
Tober also discussed the incredible range of depth on this year's cross country team.
“The past few weeks have been really up in the air,” Tober said. “But it really brings out the best in the guys because they know they are fighting for a select few spots. You can see them during work outs pushing each other. Good or bad peer pressure is the best kind of pressure and when the team's depending on you and you know you need to step up, your individual performance will certainly come along.”
Genetin also shared his views about the competitiveness on the team.
“We all want it and that is what you want on a team,” Genetin said. “It's more about who can help the team the most rather than who can get that last spot.”
Although the Bulldogs want to achieve greatness on the course, they have also learned that winning isn't the only thing.
Having traditional pasta suppers and creating their own jokes and slang, the team has developed into a brotherhood.
“Our coaches and family have really helped us to perform to the best of our ability,” Genetin said. “They have done a great job showing us how to become leaders for the underclassmen and we have genuinely developed a family. It has truly brought us together.”
The Bulldogs participated in their final race of the season Saturday. They will begin their postseason bid with the district meet Oct. 19 at Malone University.