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Athletes shape up, go distance

Feet pound and labored breathing intensifies while the runners round the final corner to finish a 2-mile practice. Six athletes formed campus? first cross-country team in 20 years.

Under the guidance of coach Ericlee Gilmore, the team practices Mon.- Fri. from 3:20 to 4:45 P.M., despite the recent 105-degree weather. The athletes rehearse distance and agility drills in addition to running several miles.

?I see the team improving in their shape and ability,? Gilmore said. ?Everyday they get stronger and more confident. That is what the sport is all about. The main point of this years team is to simply get peoples feet wet, so they can understand what cross country is all about. But if we do better, that that would be icing on the cake.?

Besides the competition of the sport, many team members run for endurance and strength conditioning. Senior Whitney Chessum participated in track and cross-country at Malloch Elementary School since fourth grade; this year she hopes to beat her previous records.

?I am doing cross country to get in shape for track and field,? Chessum said. ?I want to beat my personal 800 meter, 1-mile, and 2-mile records.?

Some join for self-discipline and accountability. Ellie Wilhelm, ?08, joined to get in shape and be part of the first team.

?I joined cross-country because I knew I wouldn?t be able to get motivated to run without a team,? Wilhelm said. ?I also thought it would be cool to be on the first team in 20 years.?

Sophomore Doug Daniel?s passion for cross-country inspired him to join and work to prepare for the meets.

?I love running,? Daniel said. ?I love working with people and I love competition and challenge; I love every aspect of the sport (cross country).?

Because the team is new, coach Gilmore?s expectations are minimal. The team concentrates on improving their endurance and running techniques.

?New members are welcome to join anytime before the first meet,? Gilmore said. ?I want to make the practices fun and inspiring so the team understands that working hard is rewarding and exciting.?

The team now rests on the first meet, which takes place at 8 A.M at Kingsburg High on Sept. 8.

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