Cross Country starts out strong

The Southerner

By Alyssia Richardson


Preparation has been the key for Grady’s cross country teams which have been hard at work since early summer preparing for competition in a higher classification.

Moving to Region 6-AAAAA from Region 6-AAAA, the teams started preparing long and hard since June for the season, particularly gearing up for city meets at Grant Park and weekend invitationals.

“We treat the meets as harder workouts,” junior runner Isaiha Davis said. “The city, region, and state are the real competition. Running cross-country in the summer has helped to prepare me.”

With many runners involved in other extracurriculars, coach Jeff Cramer plans workouts around the runners’ schedules. The teams got an early start with preseason conditioning in June and July. Cramer has a strict practice policy to prepare his athletes to be competitive.

“The runners have to come to 15 practices before they can compete,” Cramer said. “I find it very useful, so I’ll know who I have and who I’m working with. I try to get that responsible mentality in their heads early.”

A typical day at a Knights’ cross country practice consists of about three to five miles, depending on the practice groups. Each group has three to four runners, so they are very comfortable with each other, Cramer said.

“We usually start off with an inspirational speech, safety rules, and then we do a stretch run, which is basically a mile around the lake or meadow,” senior Rwan Hayer said. “Then [coach Cramer] splits us up into levels and each group has their own route. He makes it comfortable enough for beginners, and not too much is expected. We finish off with strides.”

The team opens the season with its first two Atlanta Public Schools meets at Grant Park on Aug. 31 and Sept. 6. To prepare for meets, the runners do time trials during the week to measure progress.

“In the time trials, the girls were running shoulder-to-shoulder the entire time,’’ Cramer said. “Everyone is more confident when they are running together versus being far apart. It’s the group score that matters.”

The meets usually last a couple of hours; the girls’ teams usually compete first, and the boys compete shortly after.

Cramer said the meets are “almost like a festival.” He also said that the booster club brings tables and the finish lines are always lined with people, “almost like you’re running in between two walls.”