Varsity cross country team competes for sixth, seventh spots

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Varsity cross country team competes for sixth, seventh spots

Owen Johnston and his teammates run the 400 meter during practice.

Owen Johnston and his teammates run the 400 meter during practice.

Nissi Gotay

Owen Johnston and his teammates run the 400 meter during practice.

Nissi Gotay

Nissi Gotay

Owen Johnston and his teammates run the 400 meter during practice.

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For the varsity boys cross country team, everyday there is a competition working hard and running faster to make it to the top seven. Coach Matt Denlinger keeps track of the everchanging ranks and progress the boys make at practice.

“The sixth and seventh spots are really important for cross country. The top five runners count towards the score. To have the full squad [for varsity], you have to have seven [spots],” Denlinger said.

These seven spots determine who will compete and who is able to train harder for their upcoming meets. Freshman Owen Johnston and junior Tyrus McDaniel are two of the five that are competing for the sixth and seventh spots on varsity.

“I feel like we’re kind of the last resort in the varsity team. [For example], if one of the higher ups, like the top five, is what gets scored,  then we have to pick up what they left off if they can’t make it to a race,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel has been running since he was in sixth grade at Skyline Middle School. Johnston started in fifth grade at Thomas Harrison Middle School, only being able to run in two meets while attending Thomas Harrison.

“I started out running during the summer. I didn’t think that I could run that fast, but then I got onto the team and I started to run faster and faster. I ran with the team as much as I could, I couldn’t take days off,” Johnston said.

With competition at hand, there may be assumptions about tension between the competitors, though that’s not the case here. This has brought the runners closer rather than push each other away.

“It doesn’t really affect anything, I guess it brings us closer if anything. There used to be tension, but not anymore,” McDaniel said.

As the season continues, so does the competition. The positions change by the numbers. The runner with shortest time has the lowest score. This is good because the lowest score, like golf, gets a ticket to the top seven while others work harder to make it there.

“Sixth and seventh spots are important because they can displace other runners,” Denlinger said. “A seventh runner could be in front of another team’s third, fourth or fifth runner so then our score stays the same.”

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