Cross country is almost forgotten in many high schools despite high achievements.
The term “fall sports” might remind some of Friday night football games, which are often the core focus of student spirit culture at Jesuit. Turnout at football games is often large, and students are always urged to go to games. For some, a few big soccer and volleyball games may also be thrown into the mix. However, adding a cross country meet to a fall sports viewing schedule is much less common.
Cross country has accomplished some remarkable achievements at Jesuit. Both the men’s and women’s teams are regular Metro League winners, sweeping most meets in the regular season. This past November, the men’s team took third at state while the women’s team won the state championship. The men, in all of Jesuit’s history, have won the state championship four times. The women, including their 2016 win, have won state 13 times.
How come cross country, with achievements just as impressive as other sports, doesn’t earn much recognition? And what do the runners think about the lack of support?
“Personally, I’d love some more recognition,” junior Keely McCormick said. “The football team’s all hype, like ‘Everyone, go to every game.’ [With cross country] it’s like, ‘Oh, by the way, there was a cross country meet three weeks ago.’”
Considering that the amount of work that goes into cross country is just as much as other sports, the women’s team believes students should be a little more supportive.
“[Cross country] is not just going for runs every day,” sophomore Libby Rinck said. “We put so much effort into the sport.”
Interestingly, some members of the men’s team felt a little differently.
“The footrace is the ultimate sport,” junior Joshua Schumacher said. “I think that cross country does deserve a little bit more attention. However, it doesn’t really bother us.”
Even though the sport isn’t always appreciated to the extent that it should, some members of the team get their satisfaction from team accomplishments rather than fan support.
“The sport is somewhat neglected,” junior Jude Augustine said. “But in the end, what we achieve as a team is more valuable than any recognition we get.”
Most distance runners at Jesuit participate in both cross country and track and field. Since they participate in two seasons of sports, they train year round to prepare for upcoming seasons. By running cross country, the athletes commit to hard work and training.
“You have to give up some things,” Rinck said. “You might want to spend Friday night at a friend’s house, but you always have to be out at Saturday practice at 9 or 10.”
Coming off their impressive state championship, the women’s team also credited their success to teamwork.
“We all worked with each other throughout the whole entire summer,” McCormick said. “We believed in each other. During races we pushed each other.”
To the runners, cross country means more than just a sport. It signifies countless days of running and training.
“I don’t think many people understand what cross country means to us,” sophomore Makenna Schumacher said. “You have to make a lot of sacrifices to be at the level we’re at.”
For now, the runners will continue aiming for team goals, and spending the winter preparing for track season.
“[Getting recognition] matters in a sense, but not that much,” Augustine said. “It would be nice if people cared a little, though.”