Cross Country Team Wraps Up Season


Central’s cross country team members pose at state meet.

As the cross-country season comes to a close, the seniors are saying goodbye to the underclassmen. During the first meet, the entire team finished with strong starting times for this season, and as the season progressed, more personal records (PR) were achieved, as well as a lot of injuries. The injuries included hurt knees, hips, tailbones, and shin splints.

“This season was plagued by injury, but I still managed to cut almost three minutes off my PR from last year,” Helms said.

Despite the injuries, the team felt like they formed better friendships overall, bonding on team travel trips and over running long distances at practice every day. Practices were organized based on similar speed and endurance, so there were separate groups running at the same time.

“This season brought us all so close together and created friendships that mean so much to me,”  sophomore Livi Mcknight said. “Without cross country, I would have never made these friends.”

There are a few traditions that have been carried on throughout this and previous years. Before the start of the girls’ race, the seniors lead a student roll call with the underclassmen. On the bus rides back from each meet, the team plays several different games while eating their Chick-Fil-A sandwiches. 

“This team is so motivational, and we always cheer each other on and encourage and push one another to do our best and be our best selves,” sophomore Lillie Dunagan said.

During the Bryant Hornet Invitational, almost everyone beat their best time. Mcknight placed in the top ten female runners, while the Lady Tigers placed eighth out of 15. The male runners placed 11th out of the 18 teams competing.

“The course was really flat, and we ran through a soccer field and wooded areas, which we did twice. It was the easiest and fastest course I’ve ever ran on, and I PR’d!” sophomore Nadia Denman said.

The second largest meet of the season was the Chili Pepper Invitational, which was held at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. The race consisted of running on a dusty course, around a pond twice, and finishing with thousands of people cheering as you crossed the finish line. Senior Caleb Lovell came to support the team, he didn’t compete due to him being out because of a stress fracture.

“The Chili Pepper meet was an example of the progress our team has made. Although our times were not where we wanted them to be, it was early in the season and there was plenty of time for improvement,” Lovell said.

“The course was horrible,” senior Bailey Amberg said.“It was so dusty, and by the time we finished, there was so much dust in my eyes.”

The largest meet of the season was the State Championship. There were 700 to 1,000 runners competing. The top nine boys and girls on the team ran at this meet. The boys’ state team included Forrest, Beland, junior Tate Bernhardt, junior Matthew Thompson, sophomore Leyton Rainbolt, Healms, sophomore Christian Kasten, sophomore Youssef Bahgat, and senior Dylan Simmons. The women’s state team included Amberg, Igwe, sophomore Nadia Denman, sophomore Alexa Coughlan, sophomore Lillie Dunagan, sophomore Livi Mcknight, Mazcko, and freshman Rebekah Caffey. This meet was held at the Oaklawn race track in Hot Springs.

“I felt it was a good year for us,” Head track and cross country coach Larry Siegal said,“We had good senior leadership both boys and girls. We missed Caleb Lovell, but Oliver Beland was a pleasant surprise for our team.”