Cross country struggles to keep pace

With barely enough runners recruited to field an official team, the girls team is trying to make up for the lost summer training and conditioning

Junior Jada Sanchez crosses the finish line at the West Hillsborough Invitational. Sanchez finished in 50th place with a time of 29:56.

Matt Lutton, Staff Writer

This time last year, the Terriers cross country team had four months of training and preparation under its belt. Right now, it barely has enough girls to field a team.
A combination of graduating members and lack of interest have left the team scrambling to recruit girl runners.
Coming into the school year, there were only two girls on the team. Since then, four more have joined, meeting the five-person team minimum set by the Florida High School Athletics Association and National Federation of State High School Associations.
However, inexperience and lack of practice time will make reaching regionals as a team highly unlikely for this year. To qualify for the regional meet, the team must be one of the top three teams at the district meet in late October.
Most schools begin running and working out early in the summer. “It takes time to get in shape,” senior Gaby Arfaras said. “It’s pushing it if you don’t [run over summer].” A third-year runner and first year team captain, Arfaras is one of only two returning girls, and she is the only one that worked out with the team over summer. This will put the girls team at a huge disadvantage for the meets.
Sophomore Sophie Whitworth knows how difficult it can be as a new runner when everyone else has more experience and training.
“It’s kind of intimidating because everybody else is better than you,” Whitworth said. “The more practices you go to the better you get and the easier it becomes, but in the beginning the meets are going to be really hard.”
The second meet of the season was the first competitive race for some girl runners. Junior Jada Sanchez and sophomore Mary Van Osdol ran in their first meet ever at the West Hillsborough Invitational Sept. 10.
“I think I did OK [considering it was my first meet],” Sanchez said. “I could have done better under the circumstances, but I did what I had to do.”
“They went out and ran their hardest,” Coach Arturo Salow said of the new runners. “[I just want everyone] to keep improving, for everyone to get out there and put in their best and improve on their personal best.”
Arfaras was a little more critical of the team’s performance: “It was definitely an eye opener that we need to push ourselves harder.”