Athens Drive cross country revamps team

Athens Cross Country

       Cross Country is an outdoor, all terrain running sport over courses ranging from two to seven miles long. The different terrains can include grass, dirt, sand and rocks. Competitors race both as a team and individually while focusing on endurance and the ability to adapt to different running surfaces.

       The Athens Drive Magnet High School cross country team’s 30-40 runners are managed by two returning coaches, Lori Lair and Lauren Barrett.

       “We have individual goals and team goals. Individually we always try to make sure everyone is working on their own goals and to get better because we all want them to be able to PR (personal record) and keep on improving throughout the season because everyone always wants to see themselves improve. As a team we would like or our boys to qualify for the state meet this year and that takes being one of the top 4 teams in the region which is tough because we’re in a tough region,” said Lair.

       This year’s team is much different than teams from years past with an influx of new freshman runners joining.

       “We have a lot of freshman this year, and it has been a while since we have had that many new people on the team. And we also have a lot of new upperclassmen too, so we’re real excited that our team seems to be growing and so were getting a lot of new members and a lot of new interest,” said Lair.

       While the team practices on the Lake Johnson trails, most of the meets are at WakeMed Soccer Park including the Adidas XC Challenge meet Sept.15. The park includes dirt paths, rocky trails and hills, making it one of the more difficult courses the runners participate in.

         Athens cross country has been practicing since mid-summer, allowing the runners to prepare for the season and get to know their teammates.

       “I like the companionship and the family feeling of getting to hang out with people you have met over the summer and then forming year long bonds till the next season,” said Daniel Shoaf, freshman on the junior men’s varsity team.

       The team practices Monday through Friday and run four to seven miles on most days at lower paces to increase aerobic strength and endurance. On meet preparation days they run two to three miles at higher intensities.

       “It helps you improve your stamina to run longer and reach the goals that you’ve set for yourself,” said Carson Hughes, freshman on the women’s varsity team

       “They’re really a tight knit group. They do stuff socially together, they have chow-downs the night before meets where they all get together and eat and socialize so I feel like it’s a really tight group and it’s a situation where we have boys and girls together so it’s kind of a unique team atmosphere,” said Lair. “Cross Country is really a great sport. It’s something you can do your whole life. Were very competitive, boys and girls and we want to instill the love of running in everybody.”