Boys cross country runs the extra mile to initiate program excellence

Jessica Sehgal, Executive Editor

When many people picture cross country, they envision one exercise: running. However, this year for boys cross country, the running itself is just a fraction of the battle to victory.

“To run for so long and so hard takes a level of determination that can be hard to find [in yourself],” shares senior varsity captain Oscar Baliga.

One of the ways that the team attempts to combat this mental obstacle is by sticking together throughout the duration of races.

“We’re trying to run in packs during races, because that’s what New Trier does, and that’s how they’ve had so much success,” Baliga explains. “Running in a pack makes you stronger, mentally, because it is a mental sport. Just having guys that you can pace off expands how far you can go and how long you can be zoned in.”

In addition to overcoming the mental challenges that come with cross country, the team this year has also had to learn how to move forward after distinguished senior runners graduated out of the program.

“Last year, a lot of our seniors were very fast, so we had a good top seven guys who would reliably place pretty well, but this year, we lost a bunch of those guys, so we’re somewhat rebuilding with the sophomore class, who has a lot of promising talent, [and] bringing seniors up to the fitness that they have to be [at],” Baliga notes.

In order to improve fitness this year, the program has enhanced strength training and scaled up the intensity of workouts. This includes mile repeats, tempo runs, weight lifting and uphill cardio workouts.

“In previous years, we didn’t have a good strength program, so we weren’t able to give the physicality to our runners that we really need so that they don’t get injured and that they can be more reliable,” Baliga reflects.

Thus far, the program is satisfied with the progress they’ve made in terms of conquering the struggles they’ve encountered and improving overall as competitors. At a Warren Township meet, the team placed second with 69 points, an encouraging ranking that displays their capability to succeed. 

“[Warren] is where we really showed how strong we could be, but we faltered a little bit in the third mile, so I think if we push a little bit harder, races like that will become more predictable and we’ll do even better,” Baliga notes.

On Saturday Oct. 15, Glenbrook North is hosting the CSL Conference Invite where the Kits hope to take home a victory and ultimately extend their season as far as possible.