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Cross country girls pose together at a meet in Valley View.

Cross country girls pose together at a meet in Valley View.

Photo provided by Tina Harris.

Photo provided by Tina Harris.

Cross country girls pose together at a meet in Valley View.

Claire Bunn, Editor

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Tears were shed as another cross country season filled with hard work and laughs for the team came to a close with the state meet on Nov. 3. For the senior boys who were part of Coach Chelsea Weaver-Smith’s inaugural group of runners, the meet was especially emotional.  

“We all hang out every chance we can. They’ve become like a family,” senior Ashton McAnally said of his teammates.   

“They just have so much heart, and they’re such leaders for the team. I’ve relied on them for so long; it was really tough,” Coach Weaver-Smith said, praising her seniors.  

Photo provided by Tina Harris.
Cross country seniors smile with their coaches. From left to right, Coach Cook, Web Brown, Ashton McAnally, Ripp Inman, Christian Gilbert and Coach Weaver-Smith.

Despite an eighth place finish for the girls at state and a ninth place finish for the boys, the team had many accomplishments and a successful season.  

Many athletes set new PRs (personal records) throughout the season’s many 5k races, and five runners took home all-conference honors at the conference meet in Mountain Home on Oct. 24. All-conference is given to those who place in the top 10 at a meet, and all-conference males included seniors Ashton McAnally and Ripp Inman, while all-conference females included junior Tiffany Harris, sophomore Elizabeth Kuhn and freshman Meredith Whited.  

Photo provided by Tina Harris.
Cross country all-conference honorees proudly display their medals. From left to right, Elizabeth Kuhn, Tiffany Harris, Meredith Whited, Ripp Inman and Ashton McAnally.

Part of that success was thanks to great leadership from the varsity team, something the team has worked years to cultivate and hopes to continue in the future.  

“This has been probably the best year for us regarding leadership,” Coach Weaver-Smith asserted. “They [the varsity team] know they’re being watched, and they’re being looked at and that can be a lot of pressure sometimes. Every single one of my kids on varsity, they step up.  They make every drill we do seem like it has a purpose. I know that I can trust them.”

The other part of that success comes from hard work, running many miles rain or shine. Rain delays never happen in meets, and that means they never happen in practice. Battling through the elements and pushing through the pain on a daily basis ensures that the cross country team is ready to face any challenge, both in meets and in life.  

“It seems insane at first, and it is hard, but, somehow, even people who quit almost always end up coming back. There’s something about it that draws really unique people who are self-motivated people. It draws the highly intellectual student-athlete. Everyone on our team is incredibly intelligent because it takes mental strength to complete these workouts and these races,” Coach Weaver-Smith said.  

In the future, the team hopes to train hills more to better prepare for the terrain in meets like Mountain Home, and they hope to continue recruiting and growing their cross country family.  

While the season may be over, the training for the team never stops. After a few weeks of downtime, the majority of the cross country team will be back preparing for the outdoor track season in March. Typically, long-distance runners transition well to the longer 1600 meter and 3200 meter races during track season, and the year-round training helps to prepare for the next cross country season, coming back stronger and ready to compete again.  

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