Cross country takes off with new coach, captains

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Cross country takes off with new coach, captains

Malena Heineman, Stafff Writer

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Pitch black mornings, conditioning and distances of three miles and higher, all while most people are still asleep. A group of students come together as a community to push each other to be the best individual runners they can be.

This 2018 season, the LBJ cross country team wants to dominate the district according to LASA senior and varsity captain Cameron Kleinman. A new head coach and an influx of new runners has invigorated the team to hit the ground running. Cross country is mostly student-run and the leadership of the captains has brought a new competitive urgency reflected in the will of the students to win. But that still does not change the atmosphere of positivity and emphasis on personal improvement that comes with running with this group of students.

“For our boys varsity team, I’m definitely taking more control because I want to put us through to state,” Kleinman said.

With a new year comes a new set of team captains, and this year they are creating a more competitive environment, according to Kleiman. The captains have been working hard to further prepare the team to create a legacy for LBJ that reflects their competitive spirit and amount of work they have put into making this season successful.

“My goal isn’t to make a menacing team or make other people afraid of us,” Kleiman said. “My goal is that each of us on the team can develop and set personal goals to achieve.”

After LASA academic counselor and cross country coach Shannon Bergeron, an important part of the team’s management and organization, left there was a short period of uneasiness.LASA senior and varsity captain Kathryn Christian was coached by Bergeron for three years, and said she felt the team was able to readjust relatively quickly.

“I think the team is adapting well because cross country has always been more student run than by the coaches,” Christian said. “The captains do things like creating the workouts, keeping everyone’s moral high, and keeping everything running as smoothly as possible.”

Kleiman recently ran a three mile race time of 14:59, placing second overall at the Westlake Invitational meet. Additionally, LASA freshman McKenzi Popper placed fifth in her first varsity race of the season in Lockhart. Michael Ortiz, the new head coach, felt that even though the season has just started, there is a lot of drive and potential in these students.

“For the boys, we decided to not run or compete in as many meets as they did last year, so we’re just going to be more selective on our meets,” Ortiz said. “For the girls, I’m just trying to get more involvement, because the boys outnumber the girls; I’m trying to get girls from LBJ and LASA to just come out here and run. Because I feel there are kids in this school who could run, but it takes a special kind of commitment to come out here everyday.”

That type of commitment means getting to school at 6:00 a.m. to train daily and sacrifice their weekends to run meets. Specially with the UIL District meet coming up on Oct. 12, the team hopes to have as many runners as possible compete, according to Christian.

“In cross country you have to be a hard worker; it’s a hard sport and it’s super mental,” Christian said. “You just have to push yourself through. A lot of the people I see on cross country, I know they are going to be successful in the future because of how hard they work here.”