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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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Penelope Keenan February 29, 2024

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Girls cross country works to build on past success

Farris Duwayri
(Left to Right) Juniors Cate Barton and Sierra Pape run strides to cool down after a Saturday practice at Piedmont Park.

In a historic season last year, the girl’s cross country team finished second at the state championship meet under the leadership of head coach Jeff Cramer. Cramer said the community and atmosphere of the team is the key to its success.

“We’re always trying to build that sense of community, and I’m harping on that constantly,” Cramer said. “Our bus rides are lots of fun because we’re always talking and not just about the race, but about our whole lives.”

Junior Sierra Pape believes the team’s focus on teamwork and overall community helps the mentality of the runners.

“I really love the community,” Pape said. “It’s so fun to come out and run every day with amazing people. There has been a lot of good energy at practice this year. The team gets so close because of all the hours you spend striding next to each other and talking.”

Cramer said running together and being social is beneficial to the team’s synergy and helps build valuable aspects of character in the team.

“Everyone has to run in a group, and they’re required to talk to each other the whole time and then come back and report to me on how they feel, what they saw in the community, and did they say ‘good morning’ to every single person that they went past,” Cramer said. “That’s the way life is, and that’s one of the reasons that I stuck with this sport.”

Pape appreciates Cramer’s coaching style and dedication to the team. The team respects and recognizes him as a leader. 

“Coach Cramer is a mentor in every way and truly puts his heart into the team,” Pape said. “He is so knowledgeable about running, and you learn something new every time you talk to him.”

The team has 28 runners, including two seniors. Cramer believes that a young team is a strong team for the program.

“As long as we have a nice cross section of all the classes, we expect to be strong every year,” Cramer said. “Of the [28 members], eight are freshmen, and that’s good for the team.”

Senior Cary Schroeder is one of the two seniors; she acknowledges her impact and leadership for this team-focused program.

“I think I need to be a leader and help the less experienced freshmen learn how to do things,” Schroeder said. “Team-focused training helps us be more prepared to place well at meets and it is more fun as we get to interact more and run more together.”

As an upperclassmen, junior Cate Barton said she knows she has to be an important leadership figure on the team as one of the few upperclassmen.

“I think I have to lead more this year because we only have two seniors,” Barton said. “The juniors, as a whole, really have to step up this year more than we would usually have to.”

The first cross country practices started on May 27, the first day of summer break. Cramer thinks this was beneficial for the team and building the program.

“We start practices the day after school gets out, and I do that because I can recruit over at Howard [Middle School],” Cramer said. “That way we can all meet each other, and the upperclassmen can get acquainted with the freshmen, and they can all do a lot of running. It’s not a time trial or tryouts, but rather a chance to meet each other, and 25 kids showed up that day.”

Barton said the team is aiming for another good finish this year at the state meet and a good future with a growing underclassmen group.

“I think the team is going to do pretty well, and we have a good number of freshmen coming in who will be able to help the team a lot,” Barton said. “I think we will be looking forward to hopefully making it to the state meet and trying to [make the] podium again.”

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About the Contributor
Farris Duwayri, News Associate Managing Editor
Farris Duwayri is a junior and this is his third year on the staff. He enjoys playing Midtown's football team and debate team. He likes cars and hanging out with friends

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