After a tremendous summer of preparation and dedication, it was with great enthusiasm that I looked to this first meet of the season. Although the meet is rather relaxed (no official flags on the course and only two other teams), I knew that it would be a great way to test what I suspected all summer: (to steal from the Cubs) we're good.
In the 2.25 race, we had six bees represent for ZBXC, three of whom had never run in maroon and white on a cross country course before. As we warmed up, I could sense some nervousness, but the overall feeling of the group was positive, which translated into great races! I was pleased with our start, and specifically with Alyssa's assertiveness, which earned her an LPR for her first mile! In the first loop, I watched as each of our women started to figure out where she should be and with whom she should work. Over on the other side of the bridge, I was pleased to see how each bee reacted to the cheers of her teammates: I watched each of the six surge to catch another pack of racers or reunite with a teammate--it was awesome! Emily came alive in this loop, passing opponents and moving up significantly in the race. Alana was our most consistent racer of the day, running nearly even splits. Kristina had a strong kick that signalled that her hip is feeling great, and Daz and Deisy both completed their first XC races ever, looking strong every step. Overall, I was pleased with this race as a starting point--let's just keep getting better!
In the 3-mile race, our runners embraced the positive vibes from the first. On the starting line, I was proud to see the optimism and anticipation in each bee's eyes. At the gun, I anxiously watched to see if our pack would be able to execute our plan. As they rounded the first corner, I was so stoked to see the pack running in formation and looking strong. At the mile, I was even more happy to see the aggressive attack. Not only did it look stinkin' cool, but the power of the pack was unmistakeable. Although the race was far from perfect, it illustrated that our pack is ready to play with race tactics and can compete with any team! THIS IS PROGRESS! But the fun at the mile did not stop with our top pack--Taylor ran a SPR at the mile, as did Sam and Victoria. Nice work, women! Meghan decided to just break her LPR at the mile...and keep running...no big deal! :) This kind of aggressiveness will pay huge dividends later in the season, so keep pushing, bees!
At the two mile, our pack was in pairs, but I was really happy to see that these pairs were actively working to pass Deerfield and Warren as well as to "repack." That kind of late-race tenacity is due to all of this summer's hard work. Our whole squad looked great attacking the finish line, too. Many bees accelerated prior to the final turn, which is what we will need to do on other courses this season in order to be competitive.
The final stats show a tremendous amount of growth. Jo was only seven seconds from her lifetime PR. Lainey was an important part of our strong pack work in the second mile and was faster than Bee Linked. Mary ran a SPR and looked amazing racing on an XC course again--I've missed you, Mary! Julia...an LPR by 54 seconds; she did it by believing in the pack, and working with Jacqueline late in the race to stay sharp. And Jackie? An LPR too, by 16 seconds! Again, a testament to letting the pack fuel the individual race. And the PRs don't stop there: Shayla ran the most even splits of the day to earn a new SPR; Janelle shaved two seconds off her lifetime best after rolling with the pack through the first mile; and Karyn actually hit the first mile goal time I set for the group and ran a SPR. Not too shabby for this lead pack. :) Taylor and Steff were not far behind--both earned SPRs and ran significantly faster than their Bee Linked 2016 times. Both looked tough and ready to race even faster at Lake County. Sarah was our next bee to finish--not only did she run a LPR, but she lowered her Bee Linked time by over a minute! It was great to see her take on such a positive mindset in her first high school XC race! Diana and Carmen took some of that Varsity-Pack-Magic and worked together throughout the race; they did a great job of bringing their third mile times back down. Shout out to Diana for all of her hard work this summer as she completed her first XC race of high school! Victoria was not far behind these two after a strong start; she ran an LPR (compared to PPMs) and looked great in her first XC race of high school. Sam was aggressive at the start, too, and ran a SPR for mile one. ALthough she was not happy with her finish, I know this veteran will work to improve that issue! More importantly, she helped Meghan complete her first XC race, too. Meghan ran a LPR for her first mile and finished her race with a great kick. Overall, SO proud of this group!
So even though the score (math) didn't work out tonight, I am energized by our ZBXC GREATNESS REVIVAL. This race is just the beginning. To steal from the Cubs one more time (in this post at least...you might as well get used to LOTS of references this season), LET'S GO!
Focus for Lake County: even more mile two aggression.
Shout outs: Thanks to alums Olivia Wagoner, Violette Betancourt, and Ana Beck for coming out to support the kick off to our 2016 season; your presence means the world! We run for you! Thanks to Alexia, Takyra, Naya, and Ashley for getting impeccable splits, and thanks specifically to Alexia for #racemath.
Reminder: Go to www.athletic.net to see how your results stack up throughout the season (search by your name or by Zion-Benton). Check out dyestatil.com to learn about other meets and runners throughout the state. And follow us on Twitter: @beelinked and/or Facebook: Zion Benton Cross Country and Distance Crew