Cross Country: How they get their start


Ellie Chan

GO THE DISTANCE: Junior Kenny Kamikawa weaves through the competition during the JV boys race at the Saddleback Cup Challenge.

Ally Venezia, THO Editor

On your marks. Set. Go. The 2022-23 Northwood boys and girls cross country team has begun their season with a bang.

To highlight the start of their season, Northwood raced against Segerstrom High School and Woodbridge High School on Aug. 27, where senior captain Farhaan Safi placed 7th overall in the Men’s

Open 3 Mile and junior Sharice Laygo placed 3rd in the Women’s Open 3 Mile.

Preparation for this race began in early July, with two hour practices every morning. Safi and junior captain Madison Ledgard are extremely pleased with the progress their team has been making, including the new athletes who had their first taste of cross country races at the Segerstrom meet.

“We have a lot of newcomers this year,” Safi said. “It was a good opportunity to see them race.”

This year, the cross country team has over 20 new athletes out of their team of 50. The vast majority of new athletes attended the cross country summer camp where they were introduced to running at the high school level.

“Summer camp is a time to get people back in shape,” Ledgard said. “We also wanted the team to get to know each other because this is when the new kids show up.”

While most of Northwood spent their summer sleeping in, the cross country team was awake before the sun, putting in hours upon hours of work. Many high school sports’ summer camps last only a couple of weeks, but cross country begins training in early July and continues practices into the beginning of the school year.

“This is gonna be a year where they’re really going to gain their confidence and then be even better the following year,” head coach Louis Muniz said. “They’ve been training pretty extensively for the past 10 weeks and I think they’re ready to demonstrate all of that hard work and prove that it was all worth it.”

With practice every day after school until 5:30 p.m. and tough workouts such as running upwards of 10 miles a day, the training is intense as the expectations are high this season for all athletes.

Both captains and coaches alike are considering this season a “gear up year.” Normally, the team is filled with upperclassmen ready to graduate high school, but this year is focused on preparing the younger runners for four years of intense competition.

While cross country is a deeply physical challenge, the most important battle is the one that happens within each runners’ own mind. When athletes are spending hours upon hours pushing themselves past their limits, it is easy to give up.

“Cross country is a mental sport,” Safi said. “There are times where you think that you want to quit. There are days where I feel that, but I still push myself. Through cross country, I’ve discovered myself. I go through that mental barrier, you know. That’s just what cross country is.”

This mentality relates to the start of the fall sports season because many young athletes join new sports, but when faced with competition, feel the desire to quit. But cross country is a sport worth persisting through. By attending summer camp and continuing to push past their own limits, these runners have proven that they have what it takes to make Northwood cross country stronger than ever.

“It’s important to keep going,” Ledgard said. “Even when you want to give up, don’t. Just keep running.”