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Murray Journal

CHS Cross Country Team: A Well-Oiled Running Machine

Aug 26, 2016 12:13PM ● By Sarah Almond

Members of the Colt's varsity boys team pose for a photo after finishing a 5k race at the Highland Invite, their first competition of the season. The boy's have a goal of running 650-miles total training miles by the time the season concludes on October 19 at the state championships. (Jason Baker/Cottonwood High School)

The Cottonwood High School cross country team has been training for the 2016 season since June, putting in more than 85 hours of practice over the summer. During their two months of base training, the 25 runners met every morning at 7 a.m. to start their daily run of eight to 12 miles.
“Throughout the season the boys run about 60 miles a week and the girls run around 40,” said senior captain Juliana Banks.
While the purpose of this distance training is to prepare the Colts for their challenging season, they are also putting in the mileage in hopes of achieving a main goal.
“This season the guys want to run a total of 650 miles and the girls want to reach 500 miles,” said junior Jacob Nielson.
To reach this goal, members of the boys team must run an average of 10.8 miles, five days a week. The girls need to average 8.3 miles a day.
“One of my favorite things about cross country is just getting to run with my team,” Nielson said.
In addition to bonding activities like team runs and group breakfasts, the Colts’ cross country team has a unique tradition of what they refer to as “Timp Runs.” This tradition requires members of the varsity team to run the 15-mile round trip trail of Mt. Timpanogos, stopping only to jump in the chilly waters of Emerald Lake.
“Timp runs were a tradition for my team when I was in high school, and it was really something that I wanted to bring over to these guys,” Baker said. “Last year was our first time doing it and the kids weren’t thrilled about the idea, but they always seem to enjoy actually doing it.”
Legend has it that jumping in Emerald Lake will give runners the spirit of Timpanac, the fabled Indian warrior.
“I told the kids, ‘Yeah, there’s not a real spirit, but it’s the decisions that you make along the way to get yourself up here and fulfill and complete your requirements that makes you a better athlete,’” Baker said. “A lot of cross country is so mental - you really have to learn how to hone in.”
Harnessing this mental focus is something that Baker believes could determine the success of the runners. From what he’s seen so far this season, Baker thinks his athletes have the ability to stay mentally strong.
“I’ve never had a team like the one this year,” Baker said. “They haven’t just grown in number, but they have also grown in demeanor. They are committed to doing everything they are supposed to, where in previous years I had to always get on kids about taking training seriously.”
As one of the biggest teams in the history of the Colts’ cross country program, this season’s group of runners seems to understand the importance of pushing past the finish line and putting in hard work day in and day out.
“This is the first time I’ve ever had a team where everyone is doing their two-a-days, everyone is doing what they are told, everyone is being more seriously committed,” Baker said. “And it really shows in their races. The point is, the team is taking it seriously and they are doing whatever it takes and making the sacrifices it takes to reach their goals.”
At the beginning of the season, Baker made his expectations very clear: either runners were fully committed to the team or they needed to find another activity to get involved in.
“I told them that I didn’t want kids who only have one foot on the line - it’s gotta be both,” Baker said.
In keeping with his efforts to create a committed cross country culture, Baker asked senior captain David Fagre to create the team’s theme for this season.
“David wanted the theme to be centered around dedication, so together we came up with machine, as in everyone needs to be a machine this year,” Baker said. “Either everyone is in, or no one is in at all. A machine is reliable, it does what it’s supposed to, and it requires all moving parts to be working properly. So that’s our goal for this year.”
Though the Colts began their official racing season on August 18 at the Highland Invite, the runners are confident that their dedication to training throughout the summer and their hard work ethic will work to their advantage this year.
“I think we’ve put it a lot of good work this summer and we have a good squad of people,” said Fagre. “I think if we come together we can win region and that’s something I’m really looking forward to.”