By Sam Bennett.
Heritage has undergone many changes in the past three years. From the obtaining of an Arts building to a new principal, we have all learned to deal with the changes however frustrating they may seem. With the changes comes a group who also must learn to cope with struggles, but in a different way.
Because it is a new class, only 30 kids are enrolled in Cross Country and back in August most of them had no idea what they had gotten ourselves into. Practice is held in the sweltering afternoon sun due to the lack of facilities. For the first two weeks, Coach was almost paranoid about one of her newbies getting heat stroke. Those first 8 practices were the hardest for the athletes. Donovan Garey, a participant, remembers: “It was fun. We had a fun time together but it was still hard.” Learning to push themselves was difficult, and they thought they would most likely die.
After a while, they got used to the grueling workout and ceased complaining. Running an average of 4 miles a day will never be easy but now that they have acclimated to long distance running they are more prepared for their meets.
Part of what made practice easier is their amazing coach. Her amazing stories, talking and joking with them, helped to ensure a sense of trust and an overall better team.
After 5 weeks of practice, the first meet of the year rolled around. All the way out in Tucson they met with runners from all across the valley to run this 3.2-mile race. After almost an hour of meetings and warming up, the runners lined up and took off at the pop of the gun. The first kid came in about 20 minutes later followed by a trail of tired and sweaty athletes. Efrain Canizales remembers: “It sucked. But I think I did OK.” Of the 25 teams that signed up, Heritage Mesa placed 4th in the division.
They still aren’t out of the woods yet. Now, almost 3 weeks later and with two meets under their belt, they are being pushed even harder than they were before, as the average mileage has risen to 6 miles a day. Despite how draining it must be, they are an exceptional group of people and they will not settle for mediocrity for the remaining four meets.