Running in 90 degree heat with your legs cramping, heart pounding, and lungs gasping for air is, for most people, not the most desirable way to spend an afternoon. However, this is exactly what you will findKaiser’s cross country team doing everyday.
The team practices for an hour every weekday, with three mile competitions on Saturdays. Practices consist of running lapsaround the baseball field and campus afterschool. While the routine is tedious, most runners won’t miss a workout.
“Everyone is very motivated,” said senior Jenna Ikegami. “The workouts are al- ways hard and hot, but they’re necessary for improvement.”
This year’s team is different from past years in that the size of the team has decreased. While the team is left with a gaping hole from the seniors who left last season, this is not the only reason the team has shrunk in size. Several younger members have been leaving the team as well because of the intense rigor of the sport. “Not everyone can handle it,” said Ikegami. “Running is extremely difficult.”
While a smaller team could be seen as a downside for some athletes, Ikegami thinks the team has become more competitive. “The team only consists of the most committed athletes who are willing to put in the work,” she said. “We’re all coming to practice everyday, so we’re all able to build off of each other.”
Senior Jacilyn Sera agrees that the rig- or of the sport is what turns athletes away. “The hardest part of being a runner is that it’s painful, tiring, and [running is a] long en- durance sport,” she said. “You need to fully commit yourself to it and make the effort to get better.”
Sera says that committing to the sport of running doesn’t just mean “tight calves and sweaty temples.” Even though running is not an impact sport, athletes are still injured of- ten. “I had to sit out the entire season of my junior year because of an injury,” said Sera. “Running injuries can be unexpected and long lasting, but are just another part of the sport we are committing to.”
Through competing with each other to get better at practice and in meets, the team has grown closer together. “Although our team isn’t big, we’re all close with each other,” said Sera. “I love how supportive this team is because we all work well together and cheer each other on.”
Sera says that connections like these are what make the sport more than just running. While workouts can be taxing, the people are what motivate her to come back to practice every day.
“This year’s team is hardworking and enthusiastic,” she said. “I’ll miss everyone on it because we’re all close friends who love the same sport.”
Leigh Farah / Sports Editor
Image Courtesy of Ethan Mamiya