Running the Extra Mile

MS girls join varsity cross country team


Anna Miliotes

8th grader, Bella Kissler runs around the track for her workout at cross country practice. She is one of only three 8th graders on the girls varsity team.

Isabella Moore, Intro Writer

   As many students are just waking up and starting the day, eighth graders Caroline Ahl and Isabella Kissler have already started running by 6 a.m. at morning cross country practice. 

   “It is hard sometimes to get up and run, but I would say trying to get better is the main goal,” Ahl said. “You always want to beat the person in front of you.”  

   According to Varsity Cross Country Head Coach Sara Dowdy, having middle schoolers on the girls’ varsity team is not unusual. Each year, the team has a couple of middle schoolers come out to be part of the team. But Dowdy believes that having middle schoolers on the team helps push the high schoolers. 

   “I think they keep the older girls on their toes, because the older girls don’t want to get beat by the eighth graders,” Dowdy said. “They make them work harder too, so that’s good.”

   Kissler started running at the age of five with her family and decided to join cross country in sixth grade. She thought seeing how fast she could run would be fun. Kissler is the second fastest runner on the team. 

   Ahl decided to join the cross country team in sixth grade. She was inspired by her older brother, senior Matthew Ahl, to start running. She enjoys the team aspect of cross country and likes bonding with all of her friends. 

   “It’s a great family environment,” Ahl said. “Everyone on the team is super sweet no matter if you’re slow or fast. It’s just like a great place to be around and really good people are on the team.” 

   Eighth grader Myanna Hatchette decided to join the cross country team to make sure she was staying in shape for her main sport, basketball. Hatchette attends after school practices for cross country and her coaches help motivate her. 

   “Even though the sport can be hard sometimes, you just have to keep pushing yourself, and your teammates will always be there for you along the way,” Hatchette said. 

   In the cross country team there are traditional bonding events. They include team breakfasts, dare nights and pasta dinners. According to Kissler, the girls really like attending these events. 

   “Post-race breakfasts are really fun,” Kissler said. “We go and get breakfast after the race. We normally all get pancakes, and it’s just fun to hang out with each other.” 

   Dowdy enjoys coaching the middle school girls on the team, but she wants to make sure they stay healthy throughout the season. 

   “I just hope they don’t get burnt out,” Dowdy said. “My biggest challenge is making sure they want to continue to run.”

   In terms of training, Dowdy gives the middle schoolers less mileage so they won’t get injured. 

   “Their workouts are not any easier,” Dowdy said. “But, they still have to do the work.” 

   Dowdy hopes that the girls continue to run throughout high school, and she believes that the team has great potential for next year. 

   “All the girls are looking good,” Dowdy said. “I think the cross country teams are going to do a good job next year.”