As the fall sports season begins to ramp up, people look forward to the wonderful football and volleyball teams at Oakland Tech. Although it is often forgotten, the cross country team is included in the fall sports category. Cross Country is a long distance running sport that takes place at Tech during the fall and includes year-round training for many of its participants. The sport involves consistent runs and workouts that range from 50 minute easy runs to 90 second hill repeats and more. All of this training is put into preparation for the races, or “meets”, which brings runners from many different schools to compete. The courses are often 5 kilometers (3.1 miles), but the terrain can vary drastically course to course; some races will be sunny and flat while others will be steep and shady.
With nearly 40 members, Oakland Tech XC is a large contribution to the number of student athletes at this school. There are no cuts, and people of all skill levels are welcome so that any running enthusiast or even a beginner who is interested is welcome to join. While it may sound like a daring sport that involves time and effort on top of school, the team members enjoy all the ups and downs that the sport has to offer. Fellow senior and varsity team member Cezar Gomez describes that aside from winning despite the sport’s competitive nature, his favorite thing about cross country is that it’s “an escape from the trivialities of life”. This is something many runners would agree with as it is known that exercise can improve mental health. For many, running is an outlet to release anxiety after a long school day.
As mentioned earlier by Cezar, competition is a big part of the sport as well. While our members train and support one another as a team, every person’s time is individual and the competition helps to push one towards beating personal records. Improvement is the main goal for all cross country runners. Whether they want to improve their time, endurance, finish, these are all goals that runners work hard to achieve throughout the season. The team as a whole does get a ranking as well, which determines the league winners. Last year, both the Tech Men’s and Women’s Varsity teams won the league championships and went on to race at the state championships in Fresno, Ca. Thiswas no small feat, as they had the opportunity to run amongst some of the best runners in the state, a possibility the team hopes to recreate this year.
The sport isn’t only about the medals and times, the bond amongst teammates is what encourages many to come to practice everyday. Senior Captain and varsity member Lily Seiberlich explains that “team spirit creates a friendly, welcoming community that [she is] proud to be a part of”. The captains try their best to keep the community bond strong by organizing many team gatherings such as card games after practice or weekend picnics. This effort shows through the team’s supportive nature.
In total, Cross Country is often an underrated sport that is physically and mentally testing, but ultimately brings together an encouraging group of athletes who support and push one another. For those interested in running shorter distances or even in a different season, be sure to come out and join the track team in the springtime. If you can’t do the daily practice commitment, there is also a running club that meets Wednesday afternoons, led by members of the cross country team as well. Go Tech Bulldogs!