Boys cross country strives for fame

Will Gleason, Photography Editor

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  • Steven Lang runs because it helps him clear his mind. When he runs it’s just him and the open paths he can take. “I just felt like running," Steven Lang says.

    Photo by Andrew Phan

  • It’s not what the team does together to win. It’s the little things each player puts in their own time to build as an athlete and help the team. “The team that does the little thing wins," Alex Vagle says.

    Photo by Andrew Phan

  • Cross country is a very friendly sport with everyone running their hearts out. There’s no hate just cheering of their teammates. “Sports are cool. I like sports," Thomas Meyer says.

    Photo by Andrew Phan

  • Younger students may be intimidated to join a new sport but Cross Country is very welcoming to new members. “One of the best parts about this team is how they welcome the new guys to the team," Ethan Vargas says.

    Photo by Andrew Phan

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The Stillwater boys varsity cross country season is well under way and the boys are finding success. Although the team is doing well, both the boys and Head Coach Scott Christensen believe they can do better.

The Ponies Cross Country team has won several meets already this season, including the Faribault Invitational and quite recently the Milaca Mega Meet. The boys are putting up good times and placings in the meets, but based off of what Christensen is seeing in practice, he believes the boys should be performing much better and annihilating the competition.

Towards the beginning of the year Christensen holds a 5k on the track for the boys, and based off of what they run he can predict what they should be running in their meets. Unfortunately the team did not meet Christensen’s expectations.

“Nobody really came close to [their] twi-light time,” junior Addison Stansbury said.

During practices, Christensen runs over statistics and times with the team. They cover all the “highs” but they also cover all the “lows”. Christensen said that the closest varsity runner to his twi-light time is 28 seconds off and most of the team is about 45 seconds off.

Both the boys and the coaches are confused when it comes to comparing meet times to expected times, because the boys are having “never before seen workouts” at practices.

“We’ve been having really good workouts… but then we haven’t been racing well,” Stansbury said.

Despite “not racing well”, the team has pulled off some pretty remarkable accomplishments. Second place at the Heartland Classic, for example, was pretty meaningful for the team as well as the Milaca Mega Meet.

The Heartland Classic ended being memorable for not just individuals, but for the team as a whole as well. The Ponies ended up taking 2nd place out of 32 of the best teams in the region and even nation.

“That was a big second place for us because it was with teams from four different states,” senior Matt Payne said.

Stillwater took second at Heartland behind Edina who held the Ponies off 84-100.  No.1 runner Stansbury had a memorable race and so did No.2  junior Lars Dewall. Stansbury was up in the front with some of the best runners in the nation, and Dewall was coming off a bad cold the night before. Stansbury finished second with a time of 15:51.8 and Dewall finished 20th with a time of 16:45.1.

As far as goals for the rest of the season, Christensen has had the same goal since 1997 and nothing has changed.

Twenty years ago this season we were the National Champions in High School Cross Country.  Since 1997 that has been my ongoing goal; to be that again.  That is, to be the best of 22,000 high schools in this country.”

— Scott Christensen

“Twenty years ago this season we were the National Champions in High School Cross Country.  Since 1997 that has been my ongoing goal; to be that again.  That is, to be the best of 22,000 high schools in this country,” Christensen said.

The Ponies are ranked 39th in the nation as of right now, so accomplishing their goal is not out of the picture, but Wayzata (ranked No.2 in the country) may prove to be a challenge. The boys hope to give Wayzata a run for their money at the state tournament this season and earn themselves a spot on the podium.

There are a whole lot of people that believe in this cross country team and all of these people would love to see them take it all the way this year. By far the biggest believer in the team is Coach Christensen.

“I hope the team goes as far as they want to take it.  This team is their legacy.  Their record of achievement is what they leave behind for the historical record.  They have the talent and have done the big things to go as far as their dreams can take them if they nail the millions of little things that separate winners from contenders,” Christensen said.

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