Boys cross country team starts season with high hopes


Jessie Bouterse

FINISH STRONG: Senior Bram Mansbach (left) and senior Kavi Jakes (right) lead the pack at the APS City Championships on Oct. 8. Mansbach went on to finish first place and Jakes went on to finish second overall. The Knights’ placed first overall in the meet.

Keller Rentz-Baker

The boys cross country team is all-in this season and gunning for a top-four finish at this year’s state meet with little focus on just winning individual meets. 

“My expectation is always that we qualify for state. I don’t really care about what we do in the individual meets,” coach Jeff Cramer said. “I mean it’s nice to get trophies; it’s fun to take pictures of them. I personally don’t like trophies because they just gather dust.”

The boys’ team has morning practices every Tuesday and Friday, as well as practices every day after school. Atlanta Public Schools meets are held after school on Wednesdays and invitationals are on Saturdays.

“We run the Wednesday meets at Grant Park kind of relaxed … it’s really just focused on the team running and being a better team,” senior Bram Mansbach said. “The invitationals, as much as we stress team running a lot of it kind of goes your own way, you try to run as hard as you can and as fast as you can.”

Intensity is high in practice as the team strives to reach the goal it’s hungry for —a podium (top four) finish at this year’s state meet.

“At the beginning of the season, we’re just trying to get in as often as we can and get in as many runs as we can,” Cramer said. “We’re moving into our speed phase now, and while we’re going to continue running over distance runs, we’ll start doing more interval workouts and do some work on the track. We’re trying to get fast.”

While hard work in practices and meets is still the first thought for runners, making connections and creating team chemistry is still important.

“The people on the team are fun to be around,” sophomore Everett Schroeder said. “I feel like everyone on our team is going to get faster, and we’re going to try to run together more in meets.”

Senior Elias Podber is also intent on running together and creating bonds.

“I think that so far this year, in all of our meets, we’ve gotten a trophy,” Podber said. “As a team, we’ve definitely started to run closer together, and I think that’s really important.”

The runners share one common goal:a podium finish at the 2019 state meet on Nov. 1 at Carrollton High School.

“The past two years we’ve gotten fifth,” Mansbach said. “This year we’d like to break into the top four, coming off of twelfth [place] my freshman year. I just really want to see the team finally be at podiums after all my years here. That would be like the ultimate goal.”

As the team works to improve, Cramer is also firm in focusing on the present.

“Every team is different,” Cramer said. “The team at the beginning of the season is different than the team at the end of the season. It just keeps evolving all the way through, and the only thing you can do is maximize the potential of who you have.”

With region and state looming on the horizon, excitement and anticipation build, and the team creates their goals and focuses on themselves.

“As a team, I think that we could come second at region,” Podber said. “A podium finish at state, 100 percent. I want a podium finish.”